Friday, December 5, 2008

Depth

Hey guys,
Today, I'm going to talk about depth and why it's important.

Flash games are rapidly evolving. Graphics are getting far better and lots of game developers are trying to find unique ways to do something. One aspect of games, however, is not stressed enough in games. Lots of games, especially some popular games, lack depth. Depth greatly increases replayability and adds another element to the gameplay that a lot of flash games lack. It emphasizes skill over mindless shooting. So what exactly, is depth though? Depth in a game would be having multiple ways of doing something right. What the heck does that mean? Well I'll show you a couple examples of what a deep game is and isn't.



Desktop Tower Defense

Desktop Tower Defense used to be the highest rated game on Kongregate, and it stayed there for a VERY long time before falling to Gemcraft and Sonny. Hardly any games could be more deserving than DTD for the highest rated game on Kongreagte. DTD revolutionized Tower Defense games by adding an extra layer of depth by letting the player build the maze. Also, the towers are well balanced and almost equally useful. Because of the balance, how well you do in the game is from how well your maze is built. It's also deceptively simple, since all you do is build towers and upgrade them.


Of course, it suffers from some problems, such as needing to focus some towers on flying creeps. Still, on a depth scale, I would give it a 4.5/5.



Gemcraft
I'll be honest here: gemcraft should not be one of the highest rated games on Kongregate. In fact, I think the creator should leave the industry for forcing such a crappy game on us.
A Jayisgames.com review cites Gemcraft as a great example of innnovation and depth. Depth? Yeah... no. Depth comes from giving the player possibilites. You could argue that there are multiple ways to build up towers in Gemcraft, or that the Gem system is deep, but there's nothing to it at all. Your defense should only be built one way: Clumped up and moated all around. Only gems of the same color should be combined. There's no depth at all; instead, we get this crappy illusion of depth that's not really there. You get power ups from the RPG elements in Gemcraft, but RPG elements kill strategy. The long campaign only makes things worse for you, since on every dang level, the same, boring strategy is the same across the game.
Gemcraft is essentially the opposite of DTD: Forms an illusion of depth, but underneath, there's nothing there. On a depth scale, I would give it a 1/5.


IMO, KCG should start rating games' depth along with everything else rated. It forms the basis for a lot of other things that are already rated.

So, now knowing what a game with depth is, how do you spot them? If the game is repititious, it's not deep. If guides outline a single, right way to do things while saying that every other strategy is complete crap, then the game's not deep. If the game forces you to think in different ways with each level/wave/whatever, then it is deep.


-Paul (aka EsIeX3)

4 comments:

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