This is a list of questions to ask yourself when developing, reviewing, or even playing games. It is supposed to be a useful guide to diagnose what is good in your game, and what is bad. This process highlights the strengths/flaws of the game you are developing/reviewing/playing, so that you can better understand what might make this game better, or more interesting.
It is divided into 5 categories: Presentation, Visuals, Music/SFX/Dialogue, Gameplay, and Value/Appeal. Presentation
refers to the overall impression you get about the quality of the game when you play it. It's usually based on a first impression, or a general feeling of polish or completeness, and is primarily based on the skill/experience level of the developer. Visuals
refers to the graphical component of the game, which is everything that is detected by the eye, concerning beauty and stuff. Music/SFX/Dialogue
is a weird combination of everything that hits the ears, and the written dialogue in the game. I did this because RPG Maker games rarely, if ever, have voice-overs, but instead they have dialog boxes, which count just as much. Gameplay
refers to the game as you play it, and its systematic mechanics that you experience. It usually involves the combat mechanics, the database, and the skill system. Value/Appeal
refers to the emotional quality of the game, its replayability, and the affect your choices have on the game. It also factors the interesting nature of the decisions you make in the game. OK, so here we go!PRESENTATION
- Is the interface intuitive?
- Does the game have good polish?
- Is the game simple, or complex?
- Is there a reward system? Does it bring quality?
- Is the story stellar/excellent? Does the player want to see everything in it?
- Is the pacing smart?
- Is the dialogue clever?
- Are the upgrades (if any) engaging?
- Is it easy to find what to do next?
- Does the game have style?
- Are the controls tight? Do they make sense?
- Does the game draw you into its world?
- Is there humour? Is it actually funny?
- Does the game have personality?
- Are load times long?
- Does anything in the game feel "tacked on"?
- Does the game lack a good story?
- Is it pretty to look at?
- Do the backgrounds fit the game?
- Is the framerate smooth? Is there lag?
- What is the mapping quality like? Are the environments visually impressive?
- Is the visual style appealing?
- Is there lighting? Does the game pay attention to small details?
- Is the art highly detailed or awesome?
- Does the graphics create a cool world?
- Does it run smoothly?
- Are the areas bland/dull?
- Are the backgrounds repetitive?
- Are the character graphics bland/uninteresting?
- Does the environment feel boxy/squarish?
- Is there a visually attractive variety of graphics?
- Are the graphics dull?
- Do you remember the unique style of the graphics when you turn the game off?
- Is the music the pinnacle of all video game music?
- Are the SFX nailing the appropriate sounds?
- Is there voiceover? Is it convincing?
- Does the sound support the game's atmosphere?
- Does the dialogue create genuine/believable characters?
- Are there small-detail sounds, such as footsteps, or background sounds, that make it convincing?
- Is the soundtrack captivating?
- Is the music consistent? Does it drop out now and then?
- Is the soundtrack forgettable?
- Is the music satisfactory?
- Are the SFX limited in quantity? Is there enough of a variety of sounds?
- Is it new?
- Are there big, incredible battles/puzzles/challenges awaiting?
- Does the gameplay feel varied?
- Is it fun?
- Is it challenging?
- Is it hopelessly addicting?
- Is it accessible to newcomers?
- Is there enough nuance and progressive depth to keep the player engaged for long periods of time?
- Are there relationships? Can you decide what to do with them?
- Are there moral dilemmas you get caught up in?
- Are encounters intelligently designed? Is each fight exciting?
- Is the level design exciting?
- Are the combat mechanics enjoyable/varied?
- Is there a good balance between different styles of gameplay?
- Is the learning curve well-aligned?
- Does it start simple, and get more complex as you go on?
- Does the combat stay interesting/challenging/surprising throughout?
- Are the controls simple or effective? Are they inviting to newcomers?
- Does the system have depth and precision demanding attention from experts of the genre?
- Is it simple, yet compelling?
- Is gameplay involving the player, or is it just an interactive novel?
- Are there control problems/quirks?
- Is combat repetitive?
- Is it just the same thing over and over again, and not interesting?
- Is it challenging enough?
- Does it take too long to get to the fun? And when you have fun, does it end quickly?
- Are the controls clumsy?
- Is the story worth replaying, to see the story in a different light?
- Are there multiple story threads that make it engaging to play again?
- Does the player make interesting decisions that affect the game? Do they really affect the game?
- Are there collectables to collect? Are there enough collectables?
- Is there another mode? Is it well-crafted?
- Are there a variety of strategies you can use in the game?
- Is there any reason to stop playing? Do you see any reason to replay the game?
- Does the game end too quickly? Would you have wanted more?
- Is it all playable in one short sitting, or many more? Does it have replay value?
Yeah, that's about it. I hope that if you ask yourselves these questions, when developing or reviewing or playing games, that you will realize the strengths/flaws of that game, and alter your mindset to accomodate for these strengths/flaws. The game you are developing may be lacking in the gameplay department. Reviewing a game, you may decide that it doesn't have good presentation or polish. When you next a play a game, you may decide that the graphical style is one you particularly like, and it will open your mind to the artistic possibilities. If this tutorial achieves anything like that, then my mission is complete.