Saturday, June 18, 2011

Why I Love Smaller Games

Small Game

I love smaller games such as PSN downloads, indie titles, DS/PSP games, and mobile games. I've spent far more on these games in the past 5 years than I have on "full priced" games.

Low Risk, High Reward
These games are cheap and,  in the case of mobile games, sometimes free. I find it much easier to justify spending $10 on a small game than $60 on a big game. Sixty dollars is actually quite expensive, especially when you've been poor for the past two to three years. It's hard for me to justify spending that much money on a game that I can't be assured is going to be excellent.

For example, I bought Shank recently. It's certainly not the best game that I've ever played, but the combat is pretty fun. But you know what, that's ok. I only spent five dollars on it so it doesn't HAVE to be great in every aspect. If I spend $60 on a game, I expect for it to be great in the majority of ways. It needs to have great gameplay, voice acting, music, etc.

A Matter of Genre
It's difficult to get people to spend $60 on a game, so in order to have commercial success, these games generally need to be of one of the proven types of games that work. Furthermore, for a company to spend the money to develop a big budget game, the company is going to want it to be a proven type of game.

I like the smaller games because they tend to be different. They take more risks. I've been playing games for a long time and the types of games that tend to be made into full-sized games I've played many times before in my life and I just want something different for my gaming. So I tend to look for new and different experiences when I game. I don't want to play yet-another-turn-based-RPG or yet-another-shooter.

Bigger games tend to require longer play sessions. And as I've gotten older, I have less free time and it's more spread out. So finding time to dedicate to playing a full-sized game can be difficult.

My favorite example of a game with great design with respect to time is Star Fox Command. The campaign has several different branching paths. Each campaign is broken up into different planets. Each planet consists of a series of rounds of play. In each round there is a move phase and a combat phase. The move phase is relatively short and the combat phase is broken up into several skirmishes, which last between 15 seconds to a minute or so.

It's a wonderful design that allows you to achieve a good, distinct goal no matter how much time you have to play.

I looked at the list of all the things that I've downloaded off of the PlayStation network. It's 300 entries long. And although most of them are demos, it's filled with wonderful memories.