The 50 Games Every Developer Must Play

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Post: #1
Interesting 'little' list for you guys to explore...

Carlos A. Camacho,
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Post: #2
Pfft... No original Metroid? Actually, they missed an incredible amount of "games for game developers", and I'm not just talking about great games, but canonical games. There is a good selection there, but I'm saying that a list that includes the original Zelda but excludes Metroid clearly was written by people who just don't quite "get" game design all the way. I mean, you have Shadow Complex on the list, which is great, but it completely misses the point that Shadow Complex is a direct descendent of Metroid.
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Post: #3
They're not talking about the seminal game in each genre, they're talking about the games which can teach you most about game design. Having never played Metroid I don't know whether that's justifiably missing, but they should have Braid and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time on there at least.
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Post: #4
Yes, PoP and Braid are other missing notables from the list. Metroid is an excellent example of a well-designed game all the way, even by today's standards. It just so happens that Braid and Metroid are my two biggest influences on a game I've been designing lately.
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Post: #5
Where to start...

  1. No developer should ever play World of Warcraft or try to emulate it.
  2. Where is Wizards of the Coast? D100 based games are really that taboo now? And I use this term loosely - Van Carngenham* games like Might and Magic are D100 based as well.
  3. Where is Maelstrom/Star Roids on this list? Hmm?
  4. Why is Fallout 3 even on this list? Was SimCity not important enough?
  5. What about Star Craft?
  6. Why is Outpost 2: Divided Destiny not present?

My point is that this list is horrible. It completely misses the true canon of video gaming classics, instead falling for the low-hanging fruit of recent smash-hits. There is no such thing as an "instant-classic."

* sorry on butchering his name

Everyone's favourite forum lurker!
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Post: #6
The most important one of all for any game designer is missing, the original Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. The DM's guide alone is a masterwork of how to achieve balanced gameplay and tricks to help players have fun.

Other than that, this list is more of a 50 games every fanboy must play rather than a critical list for developers.
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Post: #7
Zwilnik Wrote:Other than that, this list is more of a 50 games every fanboy must play rather than a critical list for developers.

I totally agree, the whole point of the article/list seems to be missing.

"Gameplay Uber Alles. And if you can make it psychedelic too, great!" - Jeff Minter
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Post: #8
Here's my list of game design studies. This is definitely not my fanboy "games you gotta play" list, although I would certainly recommend any of them. I've played hundreds of games over the years, so it's hard to pick the stand-outs from a design/development standpoint, and I know I'm still missing some great ones. These are just some of the titles I take inspiration from; you know, they're the games where you sit down and play as a developer and think to yourself, "There's a game idea in here for me somewhere..." My view changes from time to time, but the ones I've been looking at most recently for inspiration are Metroid, Marathon and Braid.
  • Metroid -- classic 2D platformer masterpiece with all the great elements: music, memorable bosses, weapons, excellent map, and the hero turns out to be a girl! It's amazing to me that such a great game can fit on such a small platform (the NES).
  • The Legend of Zelda -- classic 2D RPG masterpiece representing all the basic great elements: great music, creative levels, memorable bosses, etc.
  • Braid -- unique time-based puzzles
  • Portal -- unique portal-based puzzles
  • Metal Gear Solid -- plays like a movie!
  • Marathon (series) & Doom -- they're fascinating to me in that they contain all the elements of great, modern first-person shooters, and yet they're not even fully 3D. I've played these again recently, and they feel just like any modern FPS.
  • Gears of War -- included here only for the co-op play, which is masterfully designed
  • Deus Ex -- choose your own adventure! The threaded storylines in this game, plus the excellent music are worth paying attention to.
  • Spy vs. Spy for Xbox -- surprisingly well balanced and casual gameplay. This game generally has poor ratings but I think it is a really well designed game regardless.
  • Prince of Persia -- not a very large game but has great gameplay, great levels, and a storyline to go with it.
  • Age of Empires 2 -- incredibly well-balanced 2D real-time strategy game
  • Chess -- so simple and yet so complex...
  • Genghis Khan -- an old turn-based strategy game on the NES. Rather complex gameplay distilled down to basic elements.
  • Downland -- this is an ancient CoCo game. I doubt anyone else would be interested in it, but I wouldn't be honest if I didn't include it as a game I take inspiration from Wink
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Post: #9
Here's a not-necessarily-complete list of games that I think game designers should play.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time — The novel mechanic allowing the player to undo poor decisions, delightfully integrated into the "1001 Arabian Nights" feel of the thing "No, that's not what happened". The arrogant, petulant prince, the love interest who's more than a pair of breasts, the smooth platforming. Only the combat is a bit of a let-down, and even there, there are a few really sweet moves.
  • Beyond Good and Evil — A fairly generic third-person action game, with an interesting mechanic in the form of taking photographs, but the reason this game is on my list is that it engendered about the strongest emotions I've ever felt for a non-player character.
  • ICO — For the same reasons as Beyond Good and Evil, but doing it all without words. The hand-holding mechanic is really something.
  • Braid — For being unafraid to give the player unlimited undo in an action game, and for building around that a set of puzzles which are all mind-bending until you understand them, then completely obvious and natural. There are no "cheap" puzzles here which rely on exponential complexity to be hard.
  • The Fool's Errand — Well-paced puzzles, combining into higher-level puzzles, and an engaging fantasy story told out-of-order make this one of the best purely puzzle games ever.
  • Plants vs. Zombies — A study in thoroughly modern casual game design. It's simple, addictive, and unlike many "casual" games, not bereft of strategy or challenge.
  • I Wish I were the Moon — Is this a game? I don't know. But it's a bit like a game, and it's certainly interesting.
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Post: #10
I've played 43 of the 50 games. Haven't played:OE-CAKE!, AquaForest, XCOM series, Boomshine, Astro Boy or Football Manager.
I have to agree with you guys, the list is more random niche games than games that have good design.
Where is the original Mario Bros.? Tetris? Metroid? I guess this guy assumes we've all played those??? (although the list has a fair share of really popular titles too...)

My list of games/franchises people should just play: (in no particular order)

Super Mario Bros.
The Legend of Zelda
Sim City
Star Craft
Metal Gear
Deus Ex
Smash Bros.
Street Fighter
Final Fantasy
Guitar Hero
Secret of Mana
The Incredible Machine
Pilot Wings
Age of Empires
Heroes of Might and Magic
Chrono Trigger
Mech Warrior
Mario Kart
Gran Turismo
Bit Trip
Cave Story
Phantasy Star
Super Turrican
Prince of Persia
Dragon's Lair
Sensible Soccer
Top Spin
The Dig
Maniac Mansion

Hmm... that's a lot of games. I could go on. It's hard to narrow it down though. Blink
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Post: #11
tcIgnatius Wrote:Hmm... that's a lot of games. I could go on. It's hard to narrow it down though. Blink

Yes, it is hard to narrow down! I've played a lot of those games on your list too, but I forced myself to only list the ones that I felt had special properties, and especially to me from a development standpoint. I almost didn't even include Deus Ex on my shortlist of "study" games. I thought to myself, "Why Deus Ex, but not Oblivion?" -- that is, especially considering Oblivion is my favorite game of all time and it didn't make my list of dev games (that's weird!). I made great effort to focus on games that weren't just my favorite but had design/development value to me. Definitely not as easy to do as one might think!

[adding] As another example of a tough one I really wanted to add to my list was Super Mario Bros 3, because it is truly a masterpiece by THE master, but... I just couldn't think of anything of value that I personally found directly inspirational about it as a developer, other than it simply being a great game.
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Post: #12
Whoah, major deja vu!

I just realized I forgot to mention that I greatly value other developers' input on what games they take inspiration from. Casey once mentioned how much he likes Legend of Zelda Wind Waker. I had never really paid attention to that game, but I watched some videos on it and I can see that it's a beautiful game. Seeing what others are paying attention to is very interesting!

Also, I really appreciate that OSC put web links in his list. If I remember, later I'll go back and add some links for mine as well.
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Post: #13
At least they got R-Type and Metal Slug - but these sorts of lists are always kinda silly and heavily opinionated/biased. Personally I wouldn't have made a list like that without mentioning Shadow of the Colossus and Ikaruga. Also gotta agree with AnotherJake on Deus Ex and Marathon.
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