LOKI, a Finnish roleplaying-related blog, sent me an e-mail demanding I reveal 3 games I think every game designer should play. A quick investigation revealed that the games are assumed to be tabletop RPG’s, but since I am a dashing rebel I’ll widen the scope of the question to general game design. Since I am limited to 3 games, I’ll have to indulge in my own perspective. I strongly urge you to keep that in mind, and get your own perspective as soon as possible, if you haven’t done that already. But on to the games!
1. Space Rangers
Anyone who has been within earshot of me will undoubtedly be unsurprised. Space Rangers is a perfect example of how abstraction, a choice of scale and proper AI can create a humongous world that does not revolve around the player, and yet how the player’s actions can ripple through the world, changing and influencing it.
2. Assassin’s Creed
The first Assassin’s Creed makes this list because it is an extremely fluid game. Everything flows nicely, and it fixes one of my pet peeves about computer games: Hit Points. Instead of a conventional abstract health indicator, Assassin’s Creed has a Synchronization Gauge, which takes damage whenever the player plays imperfectly. It is perfect fridge brilliance: Same functionality as a health bar, but a lot more sensible.
3. Puzzle Quest – Challenge of the Warlords
Puzzle Quest is a game that shows that you can slap roleplaying elements to anything. It is a pretty conventional fantasy RPG, except that everything that is usually simulated with a die roll is simulated with a game of Bejeweled. It is clever and well-executed.
The correct answer, of course, would be to play every game that you come across. Every game has some lesson to be learned, be that a mistake or an improvement, but only if you search for those things. Observe and analyze. Ask why this works, or why this is implemented. Try to see the game designer behind the game.