The head of the Ministry of Digital Development of the Russian Federation Maksut Shadayev called game dev one of the most affected segments of the IT industry amid sanctions restrictions and expressed confidence that the state should substitute its shoulder for the game industry. In the coming years, the authorities, among other things, are considering the possibility of allocating up to $50 billion for the creation of companies to publish and develop video games capable of competing with Western products. What qualities should games possess to be competitive by world standards?
Creating the perfect game is not a trivial task. The very concept of ideal game seems blurred, since the ideas about what it should be, are too different. Depending on the preferences of the players, it may be developed in different genres. However, if you analyze video games with the highest rating, you can conclude that an ideal game should combine an interesting and exciting plot, high-quality graphics and soundtrack, dynamic gameplay, choice options and influence on the plot development, as well as interesting elements of game mechanics.
1. A breathtaking plot
A high-quality scenario and a unique story is one of the main components of a successful game. You can take an example from Western TV shows such as “Western World,” where each character has its own temper, history and motivation, and the plot develops gradually and unexpectedly. The plot must be exciting for players to want to play and learn more about the world of the game.
An important component of the game is the emotional connection between the player and characters. The player must feel that the characters have their own individual traits and unique life experiences. At the same time, the gamer should be able to influence the relationships between characters and their emotional states. For example, the player helps the character solve problem or, say, provokes him to conflict with another hero. Thanks to this, the user feels part of the game world where his actions have real consequences.
In games such as The Last of Us, Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect and The Witcher, all characters are unique, and the plot is built in such a way that players do not lose interest throughout game time.
2. Beautiful Graphics and Physics
Good graphics and high detail increase immersion of a person in the gameplay and enhance the effect of being in the game. For creating an ideal game you can use modern technologies such as photogrammetry and ratetracing. They will allow you to create realistic graphics with excellent illumination and reflections of light in real time.
For example, the Havok and PhysX engines help to create a believable in-game simulation of physical processes, providing accurate handling of objects‘ collisions, gravity, frictional forces, and other aspects that make game worlds appear realistic and detailed. Photogrammetry used in the creation of Battlefield 1 and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice enabled the developers to achieve a high degree of detail for textures and characters. It is worth bearing in mind that the use of these technologies requires a lot of computing power.
3. Realistic gameplay
The more realistic and logical the gameplay, the stronger the player feels himself an integral part of the game world. It’s good when the game allows a person to perform actions that affect the development of the plot and the relationship between characters. In an ideal game, AI will make a big difference. Advanced AI will be able to create unpredictable scenarios, interacting with players and even learning from their mistakes.
A good example here is Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord. ChatGPT neural network was introduced in this game. As a result, NPCs (non-game characters of the game) began to conduct full-fledged dialogues on any topic and ask meaningful questions. NetEase plans to implement a gaming version of ChatGPT in the mobile game Justice Online Mobile, enabling non-gaming characters to deceive each other, remember the player’s actions, and react “humanly” to his behavior.
Gameplay that completely immerses the player in the virtual world, is called immersive. The Elder Scrolls V games have similar gameplay: Skyrim, B Half-Life: Alyx or, for example, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, where the player can move freely through huge open worlds, collecting different objects, fighting enemies, interacting with characters and the environment. In the fictional worlds of these games, gamers can get lost for tens of hours.
This is an important element of game design. Thanks to a good balance, the game seems gamers not too difficult neither too easy. Subject to competent balance player all the time moves forward through the storyline and constantly progresses while facing new challenges and receiving new opportunities. For example, the game Dark Souls does an excellent job of balancing, constantly testing players for strength and rewarding them with new skills, levels and locations. Players remain satisfied and do not lose motivation to keep playing.
5. Social Interaction and Accessibility
Game mechanics should allow players to interact with each other, building community, sharing experiences and impressions. At the same time an ideal game must be optimized to work on various platforms including personal computers, consoles and mobile devices to be accessible to a wide audience. In the perfect game it is easy to start playing, and you can enjoy it without significant difficulties.
A free multiplayer role-playing game Genshin Impact should be cited as an example. It has gained worldwide popularity due to its bright graphics, exciting gameplay and the possibility to play on different platforms. Players can save progress in cloud storage, team up to complete quests together and communicate with each other in real time.
Another game that combines social interaction and multi-platform, is Fortnite. It allows players to create their own levels and generate content. This option increases Fortnite’s replayability and expands its fan base.
An ideal game should be replayable, that is, have enough content that causes the player to return to it again and again. Replayable game offers users many game modes and features that may vary depending on the style of play. High replayability is common for games with an open world, where players are free to move, perform tasks in no particular order and search for hidden objects. To be replayable, game content must be updated regularly with bug fixing.
Among the genres that are able to embody all these criteria, we can highlight role-playing games (RPG), first-person shooters, strategies, simulators and action adventures. Games in the latter genre, perhaps, have more chances than others to get closer to ideal. The fact is that action adventures such as The Legend of Zelda, Assassin’s Creed and Uncharted, combine elements of the action movie, puzzles and exploration of the world, providing multifaceted and exciting game mechanics.
When creating an ideal game, there may be problems at different stages of development. For example, one of the main problems concerns the scale of the game. The bigger the virtual world and the bigger opportunities are provided to players, the more difficult it is to create such a game and to optimize it for different platforms. This problem can be solved using procedural content generation, which allows create open worlds with lots of details and NPC.
Among the games that use this technology, we should note Microsoft Flight Simulator – a flight simulator that allows players to fly planes all over the planet. The world of the game was created based on a huge number of satellite photos. Another example is the space simulator Elite Dangerous, whose virtual world is created randomly every time the game is launched. Players can explore millions of star systems through procedural generation.
It is clear that the development of such a game will require huge financial and technical resources. Developers and high-level designers are a huge challenge for individual game designer studios and for the industry in general. Fortunately, modern technologies and options allow to overcome many problems and create truly worthwhile products.
The main thing is to keep up with the constant improvement of technology not forgetting to bring fresh ideas to make games increasingly realistic and interesting.
By Mikhail Pimenov, Director of Development of the Gaming Industry in Synergy University, author of Our Game, Game and the World