Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Graphics : Basic Shaders & Final Project issue

I haven’t yet made a blog covering my coding in graphics so now is the perfect time to note my progress. Basically over the course of this semester we have been learning about shaders, and using the “CG” library in order to incorporate them. In the previous semesters we used a combination of C++ and Open GL code, and now we needed to add in expertise in the use of shaders.

I’ll be honest in that I haven’t fully wrapped my head around how they worked completely, but I have a good idea how a lot of them work. Basically they can do all sorts of different effects that OpegnGL would never have been able to do alone. For example, OpenGL does have basic lighting, which we implemented in our game first semester, but it’s not very good looking, nor does it include shadows by default.

Overview of Shading

With shaders, you can implement something more attuned to real lighting, incorporating ambient lighting (the natural light on the scene), emissive light (the light coming off an object in the scene to the camera), diffuse lighting (the light from the light source onto the objects on the scene) and specular lighting (essentially the shininess of an object). To incorporate this using shaders is essentially using a variety of formulas, being passed along and calculating the color in the scene. It’s pretty much just formulas that do all the effects, though of course the complexity of the formulas will differ and some effects will require more special needs.

Lighting in with Shaders

One thing to note is that shaders will be using our GPU, which is built for these complex calculations, instead of making all the calculations of our program solely on the CPU. This means we will have more overall memory to work with and will result in a faster overall game.

First off lets see a basic overview of how shaders are done. Our shader has two pass throughs normally, a vertex and fragment. What vertex does is uses calculations based on points and vertices in the objects in the scene, which makes it better for certain calculations, such as lighting on a high polygon model. Fragment on the other hand, does calculations passed on every pixel in the screen, so it can be used effectively for an effect such as blur (Which basically takes every pixel on the screen and averages them out to their neighbouring pixels).

Blur effect

It’s possible to try the same effect with vertex or through fragment but the results will vary. For one, using lighting with vertex will be calculating all those lighting calculations based on every vertex in the objects being lit, and fragment will just do the lighting on the pixels afterwards. So for example, if we have a low poly model, that means there will be these massive triangles all over that will be lit in such a way that it might look less smooth than fragment, which won’t take into effect the fact it’s a low poly model at all. On the other hand if the model is high poly, more depth will be shown in a vertex shader while the fragment shader will look more flat because it wont take into effect the massive amount of triangles forming the shape of that model.

Vertex lighting on the left, fragment on the right

Now when we program, we need to declare vertex and fragment programs, and link them through a number of functions from our main coding area, to “cg” program files that hold all the calculations that our shaders will do. You have to link any shader file that will do calculations you want, from your main coding area. After that, it’s just a matter of formulas and number of files to pass through to make your shaders work.

Bloom effect

Some use one pass through and it’s done, such as just making the entire scene blue by changing every pixel color, while others such as Bloom are more complex, using multi passes through multiple shader files (Using a blur, then a bright pass to highlight bright values, another pass to combine those two, then finally add them to our current image). With multiple shader effects you might have a lot of pass throughs and files so it can get quite complex.

Anyways I just wanted to give a quick over view of shaders for those that don’t know anything at all about them, I more so wanted to talk about an experience in the coding of my Game Development Workshop (Final project) game that caused an issue but now it’s been fully resolved.

Basics of Viewing

Before I talk about what happened with our issue, let’s just talk about how we view an image on screen. First off we would have our camera position, so where we are essentially positioned and looking towards. From there we have “modeling” which represents the objects we place in the area we are looking, so something like placing a tea pot inside the scene.

From there we have “projection” which represents the perspective (defining the volume and spatial relation of you seeing the objects) and also removing anything not currently in the screen from view. Projection also includes choosing whether you want to show depth (3D) or orthographic (meaning, if object A, is farther than object B, they will still appear the same size because no depth into the screen is taken into account).

Then finally we have our viewport, which defines the window we draw in, the width and height of it. The reason why I am mentioning these is so that one can understand just what’s happening in all this coding stuff. It will be important to understand the story.

Here is a break down of the entire process in order

 One more definition I want to add is “modelView” I said this was how objects are placed in the scene. The “modelview Matrix” is important to note because the “matrix” part of this defines how the objects are placed in a scene. Depending on the matrix, it can rotate and object, and translate it’s position in different areas of the scene. This “modelView Matrix” is the key problem we encountered in our story, so let’s start with the story now.

Here is the story of what happened…

We’ve been working on shaders throughout the semester, learning the various effects that can be done through them such as blurring, lighting, shadows, etc. We decided that we would now try to implement the shaders into our game now. We had a plan, because we had discovered there was an issue involving shaders and openGL (the API we are working with). The problem was that the shader need to get updated with the positions of all our objects in the world but openGL’s translate and rotation functions we used would not automatically update them.

The main problem is that our game uses glTranslate (openGL’s translate function) and glRotate (openGL’s rotate function) for all our objects in order to place them properly in the world. Our entire engine is based off that so we needed to make sure we were able to get by this and adapt our engine to work with shaders. We tried the first method that came to mind, which was to convert everything into modelview matrix form and use matrix multiplication to change the positions of the objects in the modelview matrix. For the most part the code we decided to change worked, the positions of objects updated the same way they used to when we used glTranslate and glRotate.

However even when we implemented the shader code in, what we didn’t want to happen occurred. All the objects loaded, and it still didn’t update their positions or rotations correctly. The modelview matrix was still being saved but for some reason it wasn’t being passed to the shader correctly. We even tested to make sure the positions of characters and objects weren’t out of whack and they were fine. We were able to move around the world and get attacked by the monsters wandering around just like normal, except that you could see that all those objects were still being drawn all on the exact same spot, even though in reality they were wandering all around the world.

Here you can see a teapot and a whole bunch of other objects stuck together

We spent much of the day trying to get past this and it took a lot of time but we figured out what the problem is. We know exactly where we need to call the shader to update the modelview matrix now. Because we first tried to just update it right after our game updates the level, which didn’t work. The solution we discovered was to update the shader with the modelview matrix right after we translate and rotate an object. This discovery means we should be able to still use the glTranslate and glRotate functions because these functions are actually supposed to change our modelviewMatrix anyways. So basically what it would like is…

PlayerEntity:: Draw Object()
     glRotate(angle, x,y,z)
     UPDATE SHADER(modelviewMatrix)
     Draw object

So we just need to make sure that cg is able to access the spot where entites are rotated, translated then drawn. From there we can update the shader at that point. This should work because since glTranslate and glRotate change the modelview Matrix, updating the shader right after these would apply the now changed model view matrix. We even tested it in an external program by updating before and after the translate and rotate. Putting it before them made it so the object remained in the default starting position, meanwhile putting it after would actually apply the change in a program that was using CG. We have now tested and now have shaders fully in our game, our hypothesis was correct, we simply had to make sure we could pass the modelview matrix and then we could update all the positions of the world correctly and with the right lighting.

How things should look (with shaders off). Everything is positioned correctly

Monday, March 26, 2012

Game Design Controversy : On Disc DLC

I know I haven’t done a game break down in a while but I will leave it for next week or the last week, instead I wanted to talk about an issue that’s been rising up ever since the rise of DLC content in games. DLC (Downloadable Content) in games has been a great way to increase the replay value of games and give players more content even after the release of games. This has essentially replaced the business model of creating expansion packs or another way of putting it, is that DLC is expansion packs in downloadable format.

Heroes of Might and Magic III: Armageddon's Blade Expansion

There have been great expansion packs in the past, though it could be a hassle to get since you had to be sure to have the original game as well. Developers would frequently have “gold” edition versions of the game where they include both the original and expansion packs in the game. But the thing I want to point out is these expansion packs were pretty much all created after the original game, at least that’s what we are aware of. The companies back in the day weren’t as huge as it was now so it’s most likely they fully created the new content afterwards. Of course that depends on the company but again, we aren’t aware so it shouldn’t be an issue to us.

Oblivion had some great DLC content that could last hours

Once DLC started hitting, it was essentially an easier form of an expansion pack, for less money to. It was easy to receive since there weren’t limited copies and it extended the life of a game just like an expansion pack. Notably the Elder Scrolls Oblivion had some great DLC content that was released years after the original game. This made DLC great and they even released them in the form of expansion packs for players who had trouble downloading content or had no Xbox Live, etc. Games have continued to do this, but over the past few years, there has been a troubling issue at hand, and that’s the title of this blog, DLC on disc.

Street Fighter X Tekken – The DLC fiasco
The reason I wanted to talk about this is because of a recently released game which I mentioned in my blogs before, Street Fighter X Tekken. The game has a roster of 38 characters available for both versions of the game (Xbox and PS3), though the PS3 has 5 exclusive characters as well. Now that’s a really big roster for a fighting game and Capcom announced that the game would feature future downloadable content. Now that sounds cool doesn’t it? They are going to support the game after release, that’s what every gamer wants? Well that changes when you discover that the DLC that they were planning to release and charge you is found right on the very disc you bought.

Street Fighter character Sakura, was included on the disc but locked away

Within the first weeks of the game being released, hackers got their hand with the game and did their magic. Soon enough it was revealed that a whooping total of 12 characters were hidden on the disc, inaccessible to normal players. It’s pretty much confirmed you would have to pay for these characters when they would be “released” for DLC. Not only that but a massive number of alternate costumes were also found, for every single character and that includes the DLC characters on disc. Their alternate costumes which you will have to pay for are right there with them. To many fans, this has been a huge blow, including myself. Though I like the game, who can’t help but feel betrayed by discovering this much content already stored on the disc and “going to be released as DLC”. Before we start pointing fingers at Capcom, let’s look at this from both sides about why they are doing this and what they could be doing.


So let’s look at it from our consumer point of view. First off we can obviously see that the characters are on disc (not to mention their story segments are there too). Worse is the fact that hackers have also been able to get online with them and play with them against other people. What has happened to these hacker players I am not sure, but this proves that the code to play against other people using these characters is already in the game somewhere. So in essence this means the “DLC” you buy down the road, is just an unlock code, change a few variables, that’s it.

Footage of Blanka and Jack, two non released DLC characters online

The reason people would be so outraged is because they would argue that these characters, being already made should be put right in the game right away. They are finished to the fullest extent, with full story, movesets, costumes (that goes for the 38 characters we have access to and their costumes). They are on the disc and therefore should be given to us as the consumers. Calling this DLC would be a lie (Unless you change the acronym to Disc Locked Content), because we aren’t downloading these characters, they aren’t being made after production of the game, they are already there for us but just out of reach.

DLC costumes were also included on the disc and will need to be paid for

Many people, including myself see DLC as content to be worked on after the development of the game is complete, after it’s gone gold. Obviously since the 12 characters are already on the disc, they were put on as the game went gold. This is not content being worked on after the game is made, this is content being held back from us. It’s become apparent that more and more companies seem to be doing this, planning DLC and potentially holding back content that should be ours. We can’t confirm what content from some companies but we don’t know usually won’t hurt us unless it’s something that should have obviously been addressed. In Capcom’s case they couldn’t even do that, they put it on disc so that it would be clear to the public should it be found out. Had they kept it in their secret vault then they would have not had this issue, we would never have known, never would have complained unless it leaked. But it still would have been better than on disc.



DLC on Street Fighter 4 had a few issues but not game breaking

So how can Capcom defend themselves regarding this issue? Well in a statement they said that the DLC was included on disc as so to ensure easy compatibility between systems. They didn’t want a massive download for all the consoles just to get these DLC characters visible for each system. So by being on disc, then it should be seamless to play with other people online. Also it would save hard drive space.

Against: For one, they have already been doing DLC for their updates, though maybe not for characters yet. However they force you to update online anyways whenever they make a patch, so this could just be Capcom’s excuse for having been found out their DLC is online.

For: We aren’t sure how big these characters download sizes are, and there are still people out there that have a slow download speed. It could be hard for them to get the characters. Counter:  So what if people have slow download speed, the characters if released later should have been downloaded anyways because they SHOULD have been actual DLC. The fact they are already on sic, already made means it should have just been given to us, not locked.

For: Another issue pointed out is noted in this article. Capcom states how Xbox Live, players were able to see other players downloadable costumes even though they didn't own them. It costed money for the developper to implement this, which was covered by Microsoft. Sony on the other hand would not, so that meant Xbox Live players got a "catalogue" to see the costumes while PS3 owners could not.

Vita Exclusive

Capcom has been trying to promote the Vita version of the game

It’s been known that PS Vita was supposed to have exclusive characters not available on the xbox or PS3 versions of the game. It’s pretty much confirmed now these 12 DLC characters are in fact those exclusive characters. The PS Vita version is being released later so that means they wouldn’t even think about releasing these characters until the Vita version’s release. Now that’s fine, it’s a business model they are trying to use to encourage people to buy the Vita version of the game.

Against: They were supposed to slowly reveal these characters as the Vita’s version developed. The fact they put it on the disc without thinking of the consequences is really poor foresight. Had they held it back from the light of day and just used reveal trailers to hype up the Vita’s release like they usually do, people would have actually gotten excited. We would not have known these were already made, we would have thought they were being developed still.

For: As a company, Capcom needs to think about their pockets. Sure they didn’t think hackers would find out about their characters but even now they can’t do anything about it. Releasing these characters early would undermine their plan to give the Vita version a boost in sales, since that was it’s major selling point, to have these exclusive characters before the other versions. Although they have dug themselves in a whole at this point between angering the fans and trying to promote the Vita version, they essentially have to make a choice between keep on going like normal though their sales WILL be impacted I am sure of it or trying to make a choice to make the fans happy.

Conclusion – DLC or withheld content?

Based on the comparisons, it’s obvious to see that Capcom screwed up majorly. 12 DLC characters (Almost an entire 1/3 of the current roster) included already on the disc but not even accessible to us is pretty bad. There are going to be a lot of repercussions from some fans while others will still buy them because they still want those characters despite the whole fiasco.

Costumes and even color palettes were held back

The thing is though, should we be standing for this kind of thing? Major amounts of content that’s already complete being held back from us like this? Though we don’t exactly have a choice, the only choice you would have in rebellion is to not buy the game. It also makes one question how much other content is being held back. Sure enough not all games have “on Disc DLC” and some companies will legitimately be working on stuff post-release, but it still makes one sceptical.

For some fans we are missing 12 characters, for others we aren't missing any 

I know I talked about them “holding it back off the disc” and having people downloading it, which I think would have been way better. Sure they would be holding stuff back, but we would never have known we were missing something. The game itself is pretty complete, 38 characters is a big number and amongst the DLC characters we get lost in the fact of what we already have. If we have simply known just what we have in our current game, people would have still bought it. 38 characters, a whole new system of fighting and dream battles between tag teams from both universes of Street Fight and Tekken is a major selling point in itself. The game even got stellar reviews all around to boot. I can’t say how many people boycotted the game after hearing the DLC issue, but I know that many of those people probably would have bought the game if they hadn’t heard this.

What we don’t know wouldn’t hurt us. It would have made us more excited when we actually heard the characters announced, but now many people just want them and say the belong to use even though Capcom never specified they would be “included in the game”. It’s a really debatable topic because there are so many ways to look at it. But I truly believe things would be way better had they not put it on disc. People would not be complaining about it, they would just play the game and enjoy.

It’s debatable whether we should just run with this ethic of companies holding back content, whether or not it’s on disc or just being held within the company. We can look at it from a company point of view because they never state you're going to get specific content, then never said you would get this "x" content or this "y" content. As a company they have all the power to hold back whether anyone likes it or not. I can’t say I really appreciate this ethic usually, but I know being held within the company is a whole lot better for everyone. There won’t’ be any backlash (Unless it gets leaked),  and we won’t know what we are missing so we will just play as normal.

This is just going in circles at this point so I will just end it by saying a lot of other companies are doing this kind of thing as well but out of all them, Capcom f**ked up the most.

Tunes of the Week 10 & 11 : Kid Icarus Uprising & Castlevania Symphony of the Night

I forgot to post tunes of the week last week so I will just put two entries into one and include to OSTs!

Let's start with the first!

Kid Icarus Uprising (3DS)

I only recently caught eye of the OST for the latest entry into the Kid Icarus series, (consisting of only one other game, Kid Icarus) . Kid Icarus Uprising is a on-rail and third person shooter/action game on the Nintendo 3DS, it recently came out in February 2012. I have seen various reviews and footage of the game and a lot of it points to what looks like a really great game. In one of the reviews I could hear the background music as well and when I went to listen to the OST I was pleasantly surprised how well done it is. 

This is actually from the same person who did Xenoblade Chronicles, which I showcased in a previous tunes of the week. Not only that but this game had a total of 5 composers working on it! Now that's dedication to making a great soundtrack! Though the uploaded OST songs so far are few and don't represent the entire game, they are all quite well done and catchy. Even the practice room song is very well done, it's not just generic and boring, it actually sounds legitimately great. I hate when games put no effort into their training/practice room songs and people always end up hating the music for that level.

Composers: Motoi Sakuraba, Yuzo Koshiro, Masafumi Takada, Noriyuki Iwadare, Yasunori Mitsuda

Main Theme

Practice Room Theme!

Reaper's Theme

Magnus Theme

Castlevania Symphony of the Night (PS)

Released back in 1997 on the Playstation, Castlevania Symphony of the Night is one of playstation's classic games. It helped kick start the whole "metroidvania" style of games in popularity and remains one of the best Castlevania games to this date. Not only did it excel in gameplay, but it had excellent with a wide variety of different styles incorporated into it. Not only that but the music all sound great in quality as well, it wasn't nearly as limited as other playstation games. Others used really low quality midi but Castlevania had much higher quality music and in the soundtrack of the game you can hear the quality the composer, Michiru Yamane strived for.

It's definetely one of my favourite soundtracks just because of it's sheer variety and ability to set a great mood in the world of Castlevania.

Composer(s); Michuru Yamane

Prologue Theme

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Computer Graphics: Graphics in Games Week 11 - Sprites vs. Models

In the very first games, hardware wasn’t very advanced. We didn’t have the capability to show 3D models, but we certainly had the capability to show 2D though.  Since we couldn’t do high tech, 3D model rendering then we used hand-drawn sprites in many games until we had the capability. The sprite look is a classic, retro look, not commonly used in games but recently there has been a significant increase in the number of pixel games, many of them being indie games but others from large companies as well. For a while sprite based games looked like they would mostly become a thing of the past but their popularity has increased in these last years. We’ll be taking a look at how sprites have been used in games and compare their advantages and disadvantages vs. 3D models.

Evolution of technology

Pong had a limited color palette of white and black

Like I’ve said, sprites have been used for a long time, since the very beginning. Due to computation limits, it was easier just to render a 2D sprite then calculate a model’s vertices and triangles and it still is. But sprites also had limitations themselves. Computers and entertainment systems could only show so many colors at the time, the first ones using only shades of grey. Eventually we evolved to 8-bit, 16-bit, and so on, so forth. Not only that but the resolution of screens also had to increase from a much smaller amount. This meant the sprites we designed were limited in color, and also in size. If we wanted to give the right proportions of a character sprite compare to a large building sprite, we had to make really small looking sprites and try to squeeze as much detail into them as we could.

Super Mario World had multi-layered backgrounds

Technology evolved, limitations of sprites began to cease and we were able to create vibrant worlds and even create immersive effects such as “layering sprites”. An effect like this would be to layer multiple sprites in the background, the closer backgrounds moving faster as we move, while the farthest move slower or not at all. This would really make the world look a lot more immersive. A lot of other neat techniques came with the use of sprites but sprites began to take a back seat once technology had reached peak where it could display 3D models.

Mario 64 still had sprites despite being a 3D game

Models got popular and many franchises went to these types of games. There was just something very appealing about the increased depth of a game now, that sprites simply couldn’t do at the time. That’s not to say sprites still didn’t play a role in these games though. If you take a look at Super Mario 64, there are actually sprites around in the levels still. More specifically, they used it in particle systems, such as the snow.

Doom was a 3D game with 2D sprites

Also to note is some games used a 3D engine but everything was sprites still. The most notably example of this is Doom. It was a completely 3D environment yet everything in the game consisted of 3D sprites. But models were still becoming popular.

Mario Kart 64 used sprites for some of the items like the green shell while having 3D models elesehwere

In any case technology continued to increase, it became easier to calculate 3D models and advanced physics that would appropriately render the 3D models. Sprites were not advancing nearly as fast, sure enough we had more computation and calculations, and maybe even the process of creating sprites increased in efficiency, but it wasn’t moving as fast as 3D models. Sure sprites had physics, such as gravity and other forces, but non that could affect their limbs and such like 3D models could. Sprites were and are still used in 3D games however due to their easy calculations but more and more advanced games use less and less sprites or even none. It seemed like for a while sprite based games were becoming obsolete. Keep in mind, I am talking about in mainstream games, I am not focusing on the many online, free games on various sites. I am talking about ones made by indie developers or large companies, the big sellers.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and other sprite based games began to pop up in the recent years

Then suddenly this huge surge of games came out, and many of them actually followed a marketing strategy of “Retro throwback”. Take Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the game was a complete throwback to the days of retro gaming. It came complete with retro sound effects and an overall vivid color palette by passing any old limitations of old NES games though. But retro it was and it appealed to a lot of old gamers who missed the old sprite based games. After this it seemed like a massive number of sprites games came out and nowadays you can hardly tell sprite based games really disappeared for a while (in terms of being sold, not counting flash based games). There are a ton of games from both large companies and smaller companies releasing sprite based all the time now. Sprites are definitely back in, but for how long? Will they keep up with 3D games? Well let’s see the advantages and disadvantages of them.

Advantages of Sprites

Street Fighter 2 HD Remix: The dimensions of this sprite of Ken are approximately 430 x 395

Well like I said earlier, Sprites are easier to calculate, let’s get into the specifics of why that is. Sprites contain only a certain number of coordinates, and come with a size of X and Y. It has no “vertices” that make it up, it can essentially just be a square of pixels. That in itself immediately makes it easier to calculate then a model. Models are composed of vertices, representing points on the model, which are connected to each other to form triangles. You need to calculate these and connect the triangles to form a model, this is just the basics, we haven’t even counted surface normals (to form a solid figure, right now we would just have a wireframe), texture coordinates, faces, etc. It’s easy to see that there are way more calculations involved with models then there are with sprites. That is the very reason why sprites are used in backgrounds to save memory.

There are many more complex calculations associated with models 

This applies also for lighting, because 3D models require good lighting in order to look good. Sprites on the other hand do not have any lighting (At least they aren’t actually required to) since the “lighting” is drawn right into the sprites. That makes it so you don’t have to make any calculations for sprites, however this goes into one of the disadvantages as well.  Before I go into this disadvantage I want to point out that textures have the same application as lighting. Models need them but the texture is drawn right into sprites on the other hand.

3D models need good lighting and textures which are more calculations. Sprites do not need these, it's "drawn" into the sprite itself. 

Disadvantages of Sprites

Blazblue : Ragna's sprites don't need texture or lighting, it's drawn right in

Now then, that disadvantage is the fact that sprites need to be hand drawn. Sprites need to have the lighting already drawn into the sprite as well as any texture. There aren’t really any systems that layer a texture on top, at least none that I know of. Also another disadvantage is that models, once created can be placed and shifted to form animations, while sprites need to be hand drawn on every frame of it’s animation to look right. This can be very difficult, though there are tools to help but there aren’t many.

Blazblue: Noel requires hundreds of hand drawn frames for her animations

The best results for sprites are usually when every sprite is hand drawn by professionals, and this can take an immense amount of time depending on the quality of the sprite. A simple sprite can be really easy and quick to finish but a detailed sprite such as those in Blazblue can take a massive amount of time. The difference between making a model and making a sprite also depends on the person, because the process of creating both is entirely different. Being a good modeller does not make you a good sprite artist and vice versa.


So we can see that, calculations wise, sprites are much less costly than models, that much was obvious. And even in games with models, sprites can be used rather effectively if masked well enough. They are still used for particle effects even to this day. The quality of sprites may very though depending on the artist, and if you’re creating a character with a wide range of animations, it can actually be easier to model a character than sprite him. This is due to it being potentially easier to animate since you’re not “redrawing” the model every time like a sprite requires. You need to have a good sense of perspective, animation, scale and proportions when making a sprite being animated in complex ways (like in Street Fighter or Blazblue). This can create a higher skill cap when trying to make sprites like these and can look less smooth than their model counterparts even after all the effort put in. Not to say models don’t require effort either, but it’s using formulas and interpolation to animate rather than an artist’s skill in making sprites. If an artist wants to make a character look smoother, than they have to draw more frames for the sprite, where as a modeler need only position then correctly.

Marvel vs Capcom 3: It's easier to make alternate costumes for 3D models. It can be just a texture swap or add on. Animations can remain the same. 2D sprites can't do this nearly as easily.

So, besides the fact that calculations were easier with sprites, it can debatably require more effort to get into a game depending on the kind of sprite. There is a reason why most games go for models now. For one because most games that want to go for a 3D environment would want to look realistic anyways and sprites wouldn’t fit the game. Another reason is due to the advancements in technology and modellers, that models can look better much more easily. There are many tools out there like Maya that can allow anyone to make a model. A sprite has a larger artistic skill cap in order to make the truly great sprite animations. But there is also a feeling of nostalgia associated with sprites for many, which is the reason why they are selling once again.

Mortal Kombat uses people, takes pictures of them, and turns them into sprites

One way developers have gotten past the issues of making so many sprites for animations is to use an effect like Mortal Kombat or Donkey Kong Country. Basically they made 3D models (OR took real people) but then took pictures of the models/people, frame by frame and made the animations that way. This way, they could use the easier calculations of sprites vs models. They also would be able to easily make the animations for each frame of a sprite as well since all they do is move a pose. This is one of the ways in the past they have used to try and combine the best of both, and the effect is alright but not quite up to today's standards in terms of quality. But it has a retro look of sorts.

Shadow Complex (3D) on a 2D plane
Castlevania (2D) on a... 2D plane

In this day and age, due to advancements in technology, it’s not hard for a person to make a model and 3D game, but with enough dedication you can make sprites to make a 2D or even 3D game. A lot of the choice between sprites or models depends on the type of game you want to give to the player and the type of feeling you want the game to resonate. If you compare a game like Shadow Complex, a 3D game, on a 2D plane, it invokes a similar different feeling compared to playing a sprite game such as Castlevania just by the aesthetics of the sprites. It’s all about the feeling.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Game Design: Fun in Games

I’ve talked a lot about quite a few games and broken them down, perhaps to the point of doing it too much. That’s why this week I will instead focus on a topic we recently just learned, fun. Games are supposed to be fun, obviously but fun is different for everyone. What some people consider fun might not be fun for others, it’s just human nature because we all have different opinions. And just like we all have different opinions, we all have different types of fun as well. There are many people out there trying to create “models” that try to categorize fun, in ways that Game Developers can use in order to create their game for their target audience.

One of the models we were taught has over 14 different types of fun, and to me it definitely seems pretty well done in terms of defining all these different forms of fun and differentiating them. Not every game has to have all these different kinds of fun though. But we will go over each of them and I will talk about some of the games that fit into these categories that I’ve enjoyed all my life. This is a great time to show all the different games I’ve come to like and the different kinds of fun I’ve had with them.

So then, enough of the intro, let’s get started shall we?


You hear beauty and you might immediately think, “graphics”. That’s true, but that’s definitely no the only thing. It has a lot to do with creating other aspects that will “please the senses”. That goes for sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing. Sight, would obviously link to graphics. Taste… well I don’t know any video game where we taste anything BUT this can still apply to other kinds of games. Touch, right now we can’t exactly touch any games but if you think about it, most games have vibration in the controllers. When you feel an earthquake in a game for example, you feel the vibration in the controller, which helps to provide feedback and “please the sense”. Hearing is extremely important too, it’s the sounds we here, music, sound effects, ambiance, these are vital to creating beauty in a world as well.

As of now, in terms of video games, the most important senses to please (Not to mention the easiest to please given our current technology) are sight and hearing. Combining a great looking game, with beautiful graphics, style and animations, along with great engrossing, beautiful music, memorable sounds that immerse the player, can definitely be a form of fun. There are some people out there that just sit in awe at the beauty of a game in it’s opening moments and just love seeing how great a game looks.

One of Skyrim's beautiful sceneries. There is a lot of great ambiance noise to boot

I’ll give you an example how some people might have found it fun to try and get the best looking graphics. Crysis came out in 2007, and most computers couldn’t run it at full specs with a smooth framerate. People tried to upgrade to the highest quality computers to try to run it, and some even had fun trying to get to that highest possible graphics level and going at 120 fps or something or the sort.

Crysis has boasted some of the most beautiful visuals for quite some time

Others just enjoy the sights and sounds of the game, that iconic Zelda chime when you get an item as well as that glow that comes from finding the item can definitely be fun when you see them. Nintendo designed it so that when you do receive an item, it would give a sense of beauty that would please the senses. Other games it’s just the pure beauty, the realism of the graphics like Final Fantasy XIII, or perhaps the cartoony, charming style of something like Windwaker. It’s a type of fun that pleases a lot of people, though how long it can please them before they become too “used to it” will vary.

The classic Zelda chime tunes in when you get an item

For myself, I love realistic graphics but with an immersive environment. I highlighted this especially in my Final Fantasy XIII-2 blog an even posted a video about it. Another game I love for it’s environment is Skyrim, the world is so full and real and the ambience and music match is all perfectly. Great graphics aren’t everything of course, and going back to the Cell Shaded look I frequently talk about, I really like that style. It’s simple but pristine and invokes the look of comics or manga/anime, of both I enjoy. A few highlights for me include Windwaker, Skyward Sword, Tales of Vesperia, Marvel vs Capcom 3.

My video showcases the environments of Final Fantasy XIII-2

I don’t want to spend too much time on this so let’s move to the next one!


I won’t spend too long in this one because it really links to beauty a lot. Being in an immersive environment, takes you out of your world and into the game’s world. Beauty helps to invoke the immersion, and various gameplay elements such as being in first person help that as well. A world doesn’t have to be realistic of believable to be immersive. If the game provides a world that’s well done in terms of beauty, lore, and with characters you care about and form relations with, then you’re being immersed into that world.

Star Wars : Knights of the Old Republic was able to draw you into the universe of Stars Wars with ease

Debates rage over immersion as well, such as third person cutscenes being much less immersive than first person cutscenes, or cutscenes you watch versus being able to participate in the cutscenes, such as via quick time event. Immersion of course varies for some, some are immersed into hearing and seeing how the characters act, immersed into their lives and how their fates play out. Others prefer the immersion of being the one to act in the game and cutscenes, not being one for hearing about others but to act. Everyone can experience immersion in different ways and I for one, can experience both of these, depending on what the game provides of course.

Bioshock's setting and atmosphere made it an extremely immersive game

I have to say that many of the games that I enjoy for their beauty also immerse me as well. I will note some other games I didn’t mention up top though. Bioshock is definitely one of them that stand out for me, it had a beautiful, great atmosphere and it used first person as well and all the characters were interesting. The place had a real history to it and I really felt like I was in a different world during that time. It was probably one of the most immersive modern games I remember. Definitely a stand out game in terms of immersion for me.

Intellectual Problem Solving

I think this one speaks for itself, solving problems can be a form of fun for some. This very closely relates to puzzles, and so in turn relates to puzzle solving. This kind of fun applies for any games that are puzzle games for sure, so games such as Tetris and Dr.Mario would easily fit into this kind of category.

Dr. Mario, a classic puzzle solving game

However there are of course plenty of other games that use intellectual problem solving as well. There are many games that use logical decision making and problem solving to work, so any detective game such as L.A. Noire certainly use these for sure. It can even apply for RPGs where you have multiple choices and if you’re trying to follow a certain  path, you have to choose what decision you would make that would lead to what you want.

L.A. Noire is a detective game and forces you to think like one

But yes, the most obvious one would be puzzle games, applying here. I will admit I am not much of a puzzle gamer. I hardly play tetris or any game similar to it. However in one of my previous blog posts, I covered Catherine and that was one of my favourite games of this year. It had a massive focus on puzzle solving and I managed to get engrossed into it. So even though I don’t enjoy all puzzle games, certain ones can appeal to me and provide fun!


The thrill of competition appeals to a lot of gamers. It’s a kind of fun that applies mostly against human opponents. Many people can get a thrill out of being able to best someone and prove that they are better. It’s a kind of thrill that you won’t get from just fighting an AI equivalent. The fact that you were able to outplay, out think, maybe even outwit an opponent, it’s a kind of superiority that leads to a feeling of satisfaction.

Marvel vs. Capcom 3, a game with a lot of competitive play

Since I play fighting games this obviously applies to me greatly. I both love and fear competition. Sometimes I don’t want to deal with fighter other people but when I do, there is a great amount of fun that can be had when you’re trying your best to outplay your opponent. Most fighting games will have this, and pretty much every multiplayer game usually will have some form of competition.

Another popular fighting game, Blazblue

Some of the fighting games I have enjoyed over the years are Blazblue, Soul Calibur, Tekken, Street Fighter, Marvel vs Capcom, and many others. All these fighting games have a competitive scene actually, which leads to tournaments and sponsorships. This can actually lead to being a competitive gamer in the fighting game scene. Whether turning into a competitive gamer will still have the same fun is debatable. They probably still do, in a casual match but when it’s a tournament on the line, things can be a little more stressful but it’s still possible to have fun in a tournament match (Again this depends on the person’s mindset).

In Gears of War, like any multi-player shooter out there, competition can be fierce

Of course there are plenty of competitive games that are non fighting games I play. Call of Duty, Gears of War, League of Legends, are among those I play. There are a ton of multiplayer games out there that provide competitive fun and I don’t want to go over them all!

In Mario Kart, you can compete against yourself for the best lap times

Also to note is that you can compete against yourself too, it’s not just multiplayer. Racing games where you try and beat your laptimes is a good example! I played a lot of Mario Kart back in the day and frequently tried this sort of thing! Of course you could just play against your friends in Mario Kart as well, but the point is, it's possible to compete against yourself in games too.

Social Interaction

I went over the importance of this kind of fun in my Lan War Blog. Being able to talk and interact with others, versus interacting with the AI can be much more thrilling. You know there is another person, just like you on the otherside. They react to you realistically because they are in fact real, while AI you can exploit and such. Working with another person means you can plan together, play together or even against each other and playfully trash talk each other.

Mario Party, a staple game in terms of social interaction

This actually links back to competition, because it’s interacting with another player. You can get pride in defeating someone in competition, which is actually an extension of social interaction. Because you are reacting to defeating a real person and potentially trash talking them if you’re that sort of person.

In Left 4 Dead, it's better to play with friends than the AI (Because they steal your health packs and heal you at 50% health)

Social interaction is definitely becoming bigger in games. Many single player games try to offer multiplayer to increase the life span of games. Players interacting with another can always give a different experience because of how dynamic people can be, versus an AI with limited thinking and learning capacity. Technology will improve this but perhaps it might not be able to match interacting and playing with real people even in the future. There is something about communicating with a highly advanced machine that also creeps me out (due to movie influence where these robots would overthrow us).


This one’s a little more specific and not always present in games. But then again this list isn’t solely for games anyways. Being able to laugh at something in any medium always give a delightful feeling, we all know it. People might laugh at different things but it always provides a form of pleasure and fun. Whether it’s an intellectual joke, slapstick humour, a dirty joke, etc, everyone has something they can usually laugh about.

God of War: I see no hint of comedy in Kratos

There are plenty of games that don’t have this anywhere in sight. God of War for instance, I don’t recall a single funny moment, nor should there be. The tone is serious, bloody and brutal, comedy in the game would probably have ruined it. So it’s fine for these games not to sure, but plenty of other games like to take a more light hearted tone. In Tales of Vesperia, characters like to joke or get into silly situations which come out as comedy and if you’re engrossed enough with the characters, you will enjoy these interactions. You will see the comedy in it and have fun watching it like it’s a tv show.

Tales of Vesperia - You can try to interpret what Estelle is saying

Other games try to go full out in creating a silly experience or contrast between serious moments, which easily get subverted with over the top silly moments. I know that the Disgaea series have always gone for silly in every game in the series. Though I haven’t actually played them yet. Bayonetta uses over the top, non serious moments then every now and then throwing a serious moment just to break it with a comedic one moments later. Using a combination of both serious and comedic I think proves really effective because then you won’t just be expecting comedy the whole time and becoming tired of it.

Disgaea - Truly the most serious boss of all time

Thrill of Danger

This one is harder to reproduce in games. The thrill of risk and danger, much like a daredevil would have. Basically a really obvious one is sky diving. It feels dangerous, it looks dangerous and you get a kind of thrill out of that because of all of that even though you should be safe. Your mental mindset might automatically think “Why am I falling out of a plane, how is this even safe?” even though all necessary precautions are in place for you to not die. It gives them a rush, a thrill, a sense of fun. Some people hate it, some people love it.

MW3 : That moment when you realize you're the only one left on your team

In games there are ways to do this still. In fact, I can relate this to competition. Because thrill of danger relies on the stakes being high. In a match of Call of Duty, in Search in Destroy mode where you only get one life each round, if it’s the final round, win or lose, and you’re the only one remaining on your team, then the stakes are high. Some people get this thrill of danger, because they make one tiny mistake and their team loses the whole match. They will get this thrill if they are really engrossed into the game, or this particular match is very important (such as a tournament match). The thrill coming out on top against all odds in this case can be really great for some people, I know I’ve had this in Call of Duty and various other games.

The Ultimate Battlefield 3 Simulator can reproduce the effects of Thrill of Danger

You can’t physically reproduce the danger in most cases, because that would be… dangerous. But it’s actually been done. There was actually something created to try and replicate a real Battlefield 3 experience. They used the game, and put paintball guns, a full 360 degree screen around you, surround sound, and everything to immerse you into the game. The paint ball guns are the focus here because they actually hurt. If you got shot in game, a paintball would shoot you and it was painful. This replicates that thrill of danger because now you’re actually afraid of getting hurt. It was definitely fun to watch and I am sure a lot of players would love to try this someday. Who knows if we will ever get this kind of device but it won’t be sold to children that’s for sure.

Physical Activity

Some people can get a kick out of physical activity, it might make them feel good because they are getting exercise and knowing they are potentially getting healthier. They can think up whatever reason associate with the physical activity they want that can lead to that feeling of feeling good.

Wii Sports: The rise of more physical gaming

Not really common with games but it’s definitely becoming more common. The advent of a burst of physical activity games came with the introduction of the Wii. I still remember opening my Wii and playing Wii Sports right away. There was something about combining a video game with pretending to use a tennis racket that just seemed so fun. It allowed me to pretend to be a tennis player, doing the actual physical activity a tennis player might do while appearing to perform well in gameplay. It’s definitely a different experience then playing something like Mario Tennis where I have no physical activity associated.

Dance Dance Revolution : D-Pad vs Full Dancing mat = Dance Mat wins

Others see this as a gimmick though and I myself stopped playing Wii sports after a while. However there are games that have been doing this for a while though and depend entirely on this physical activity too. Games like DDR, in which I bought one of the PS2 versions, used physical activity all the time to perform “dance moves”, meaning stepping on the arrows. It’s a really simple system that could be replicated using a controller and pressing buttons but you can feel the difference between using a mat, and using a controller. It felt way more fun with the mat, the controller was much more boring. Most of the thrill came from using mat for sure.


There are different forms of love, but we are not just talking about romantic love here. We are talking about admiration and appreciation for someone in general as well. We know love is all around the world and people can get a thrill out of experiencing love of any sort. Many people enjoy the appreciation and praise of others, and they get that pleasure out of it. Some also like actually being in love too, (obviously) but in terms of game reasons, some players can actually love a virtual character to extreme lengths and enjoy that feeling.  Others enjoy the story of love and seeing the characters interact in a romantic fashion.

Street Fighter 4 : Winning against a skilled opponent can get you the appreciation of others

In terms of appreciation of others, this applies to a ton of games, in fact you could say every game features this sort of love. You could get praised for beating an extremely difficult game such as Battle toads on the SNES. You could get praised for performing an extreme feat in a game that seems impossible to others such as performing an insane combo in a fighting game like Street Fighter. It could be praise for beating someone who seems superior to you in any form of competitive game. There are all sorts of variations of this kind of praise but the point is that you will get that rush from feeling the praise. You will feel happy and from receiving it and many people strive to earn this kind of praise in games.

Final Fantasy XIII : Investing your care into the fates of Lightning and the others

NOTE: This doesn't mean you're madly in love with them, but you do care about them and their fate. Being in love with a character depends on your immersion to the game and also obviously the mindset of the person. Some people would never say they would love a character like this, some aren’t capable of loving a character like that simply because they are virtual. But for those that do, they can feel some attachment to them and a thrill of being able to interact with them. They could love their personality, looks, or all of the above, but just interacting with them or seeing their reactions in game can cause a sort of fun. This can especially apply if you are controlling a character falling in love with said character, which will now get into.

Even Metal Gear Solid 3 had a love story

Others get the thrill of seeing a love story, and we know this is present in tons of games, especially RPGs. Our main hero falls in love with a heroine over the course of a journey, or the prince going to rescue a princess, typical stuff we usually see. Uncharted, Tales series, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, blah blah, too much to cover. We all know some people love , love stories and others dislike them and for those that love them, they get a feeling of fun.


I covered this sort of thing back in one of my previous blog posts, but this is definitely a major form of fun I love. Create things that didn’t exist or perhaps even customization can apply to this form of fun, but fun it is and it is for many people. There is a reason Minecraft has become so popular, because of creation. It can also stem to modifications as well, mods of many Half Life Games (notably Gary’s Mod) allow so much customization. The creation of these mods as well are a form of creation, people can get a thrill out of making these too.

Minecraft : Creations limited only to your imagination

There is a lot to cover in creation, so let’s get through this quick. Creation from scratch in a sand box world, Minecraft currently exudes this. It’s pretty much creating any kind of environment you want right now. There are countless videos where people have recreated popular environments or characters, such as a giant 8-bit Mario, or even portraits. You can pretty much create anything you want in this game.

Soul Calibur V : Creation of Resident Evil's Wesker 

Customization, is a minor version of creation, more toned down. This also fits with modifications. Basically changing existing assets in ways to appeal to you. Soul Calibur has a good character customization system, and players are able to make characters or edit existing ones with various outfits, hair, body sizes, etc. There is something about this that just allows you to show your creativity and people enjoy expressing themselves.

Lord of the Rings : Battle for Middle Earth 2 - Note there are 3 Saurons...

Modifications more specifically can modify the game in terms of gameplay and aesthetics. There is something fun about using a modification that changes the graphics or gameplay of the game. I myself made a few modifications myself. I used to make a few in Lord of the Rings Battle for Middle Earth, where I made the hero units super strong so that they seemed as awesome as they did in the movies. I also downloaded many mods that changed the gameplay because I loved seeing 10x more units on screen battling it out at once, or seeing new units and heroes in play.

Creation involves the fun of creativity and expression and modification also involves the thrill of change as well.


This one is in human nature too. Many people just like getting more powerful, it’s evolutionary. The strongest survive and the weak perish sort of thing. Some people just get a kick out of getting more powerful, and just dwarfing every possible opponent. Quick Note: This also goes with the whole flow theory, due to the fact that if you get too powerful it could get boring.

Final Fantasy VII : Getting the Ultima Weapon (Most powerful weapon in the game) for Cloud is going for power!

There are a ton of games where this applies, and RPGs are well known for this. If you decide to “grind” your characters to level up, or go searching for the most powerful weapons around, you do this because you want to get powerful, you want to be able to blow up the boss. Sometimes it’s just so you can completely destroy the boss very easily, other times it’s just to be able to become powerful enough to match up to the boss.

Age of Empires II : Without proper tactics than the largest army will win

In other games, you want to become more powerful just so you can destroy your opponent. Strategy games such as Age of Empires, normally if you have the largest army and you go into battle against someone, if you have the same kinds of units, you’re going to win. Only tactics could defeat the larger army. You strive to become more powerful because you know you want to win.

I know I am one of the people that enjoys getting power in a game. There is that sense of empowerment that just seems so thrilling. But depending on the game sometimes it’s not appropriate to get power. Going back to Flow Theory like above, getting too much power can mean games become too easy and if they become too easy they can become boring. Like I said, everyone is different though and some people don’t care if it’s too easy. The build of power is simply enough fun for them that it subverts the fact it’s easy. I am not one of those people though, I like getting power but I like having a challenge still.


We all know what discovery is. Many people get that thrill out of exploring all the land, uncovering all it’s secrets, learning new and interesting things. This includes, new tools, enemies, environments, etc. Wanting to do new things also leads to this, as well as learning new abilities that will allow you to explore eve more or discovering abilities to help you in battle. Also to note this links with Power, because discovery could link to the need to want to discover the most powerful items possible to earn for your characters.

Legend of Zelda Majora's Mask : In any Zelda game, these will be all around the world for you to find!

There are lots of worlds that are filled to the brim with secrets that just beg to be explored. They were built with discovery in mind and one of the most famous franchises for this is the Legend of Zelda. Every world has tons of secrets, hidden heart pieces, new items, treasures, unique enemies, sidequests, etc. I know my brother is a person who loves discovery and finding all these items, I believe he enjoys that thrill of discovery. There is a certain satisfaction when you look in every corner of a level and suddenly see you found a hidden heart piece. This applies to any form of new items you might encounter.

Metroid Fusion : Discovering items in a Metroid game is half the experience. Take that away and much of the fun is gone.

I will personally admit I am not as much a discovery fanatic as some, at least not in the exploration sense. Of course I love discovery new gameplay elements, abilities, weapons, environments, of course everyone does. But I won’t always look in every nook and cranny of a level because I can be lazy at times, I want to get into the action. But when a discovery presents itself I still enjoy it, but if I discover something by accident by looking around, I guess the feeling is even greater (depending on the nature of the item provided, if it sucks then I just feel worse sometimes). But in any case, I believe this form of fun is actually one of those that are most important for games. Every game has some sense of discovery to it, at least providing new interesting things, otherwise if there is nothing to really discover about a game, that means you know everything about the game right away. In some cases, if the game is simple, you get into it right away, if it’s something like say Metroid, then that just… no.

Advancement and Completion
Everyone knows nowadays there are trophies on the PS3 and Xbox 360 achievements. The reason these were made is because people loved achieving something and so the companies tried to capatalize on this by making points that really have no value but for some people seem to exude some great feeling of pride. There can be pride of achieving something and bragging to your friends, or achieving it simply for your own satisfaction and there is also these achievements points that are proof that you accomplished something but sometimes they are meaningless (more on that later).

Gears of War : The Final Boss could be hard for all the wrong reasons

That was just talking about completion, regarding advancement then we are talking about progression in a game. People don’t typically like getting stuck in a portion of the game, some even rage and throw their controllers at walls. There is a reason games in general are easier these days, to cater to everyone, to allow everyone advancement. There is more fun to be had in advancing through your game than being stuck at a hard part for quite some time. For example : If you were playing Gears of War, would you rather keep doing this stupidly hard boss over and over that’s practically impossible, or be able to have some challenge but after a few tries be able to get past him? This is debatable because this goes between the fun of challenge versus the fun of advancement. This will depend on the player! As long as the challenge is reasonable!

Final Fantasy XIII : Beating the game meant you could no longer experience the story the same way. (And if you restarted the intro is ridiculously long)

Advancement leads to completion, which in term leads to achievement of some task. Completing a game or task or some sort leads to a satisfaction which can vary on it’s difficulty. In general people can love completing something but it can actually be the opposite in some cases too. It means if someone completes an RPG, they can never experience the story the same way they had in their first run through. Sure there can be new game +, but the story is forever spoiled and that could have been the hook to keep them playing. They could now have no interest in the game even with good game mechanics, if they were solely hooked on the story or the new game + sucks.

TMNT: Turtles in Time - Still fun to play even though you beat the game once. Rinse and repeat feeling of advancement and accomplishment.

In other cases relief and great pride can follow after a difficult game/final boss. This goes for arcade games, such as TMNT : Turtles in Time. Finally beat the Shredder, it was hard, difficult, took a lot of quarters but it’s done and now I feel accomplished. We can also replay the game again and it could be different due to diferent players and the fact that arcade games are typically built in ways that are easily replayable. Go through advancement to completion again, rinse and repeat.

One thing I want to point out is achievement systems and points in PS3 and Xbox. The points are somewhat meaningless because some of the achivements are just down right lazy or they actually don’t provide any real sort of achievement. For example King Kong : the Game, back when the new King Kong movie came out. Beat the game, 1000/1000 points and don’t do any sort of exploration. Do I feel accomplished? Did I really earn all those points? Heck no, it kind of undervalues those points in my opinion. Granted I DID beat the game, but it was not thing special, it was easy. Same for when they do achievements like “Start game” or “Go into training mode” or things that are just honestly things you would normally do and not to mention very easily and fast. How is this an achievement? Sure some people will get a kick out it, they like the points but for me I’ve not really cared too much about the points anymore, due to this reason. The only time I feel like I earned it is when there is an actually legitimately hard achievement to earn worth a lot of points. Then it feels special. Everyone’s different, this is my take on achievement points.

Application of a Skill

Possibly one of the most important types of fun in terms of games, skill is the reason we strive to play games, more specifically, improving that skill too. Skill mastery is a key to keeping players hooked and also providing fun. Think about it, if we have a game that’s all luck, sure it can be fun but over time it may just get boring because are we really putting any input? A combination of both would probably work better.

Every fighting game will have characters with different hit boxes and distances that their attacks can reach

All sorts of video games require different skill, and this can also apply the intellectual problem solving type of fun from earlier. Every game has different mechanics, even fighting games on a 2D plane all have different mechanics and dynamics that will make them each different. For example Marvel vs Capcom 3 is 3 on 3, with easy to get hyper meter and able to perform insane, very lengthy combos, while Blazblue, which has many combos, is 1 on 1, different uses of hyper meter, different character attributes (in terms of reach, distance, speed, air dashes, etc), and whole bunch of other differences in terms of overall game speed as well. This goes for any other genre too, First Person Shooter, Strategy, all games will have differences despite having a similar core.

Uncharted: Many core lessons you learn playing an shooting game can apply to any shooters

But each game, though with different mechanics and dynamics will have a similar mindset of play. So fighting games goes for mindgames, anticipation and counter of opponents moves, mastery of your own moves in terms of application, distance, reach of your attacks, invincibility, etc. You have to learn each game but you can still think in similar ways of games in the same genre. Shooters apply application of your accuracy, use of cover, mastery of weapons and sometimes team tactics depending on the nature of the game. If you play Call of Duty and Gears of War, though they are quite different, you are still aiming your guy and trying to flank at times, just in different ways.

Street Fighter X Tekken looks the same as Street Fighter 4 but plays quite a bit differently overall

This means that there are tons of different games to master different skills. So if you go to Street Fighter 4 then to Street Fighter X Tekken, you can’t just go in an be a master right away. It would take away the fun if you were immediately as good. You learn new things due to the different nature of the game and master the differences in the game while using your experience with the similarities as a base.

Super Smash Bros : This may be difficult the first time playing, but it gets a lot easier

Important to note is to look at the flow theory again, skill level vs challenge. Make sure that mastery of skill doesn’t make the game too easy and not having enough skill doesn’t make it too hard. Granted this can’t always be helped but usually it can take a while for one to gain mastery of a skill such that it would make the game too easy. For example, in Smash brothers, mastering the game made the AI way too easy, but now you have a mastery of skill to challenge real opponents too. You can have even more fun challenging players at your skill level. This is how competitive games can keep striving, because players can always get better and challenge each other rather than fighting just a static AI.


That was longer than I expected, a lot longer… but anyways what to take away from this, (assuming much of this was skimmed because its so friggen long) is that there are all sorts of different fun but not everyone likes each of these different forms. Depending on the mindset, people can love or hate different forms and some forms can even contradict each other or complement each other. This is by no means THE set of types of fun but it’s definitely a solid, interesting model. Okay enough talking I am tired.