Games are essentially a digital product which will be placed in the market for sales. So analyzing games for quality, user experience and user-friendliness is a vital process. Game quality analysis from a game developer perspective is quite different from a blog review. It should be critique in nature, rather than a review. The goal of the game analysis is to highlight and rationalize the aspects that make the game worth studying and contribute to improvements.
A very popular book on marketing (Kotler, 1993) states that “A good product is one that satisfies customer’s needs, preferences, and expectations”. This article focuses on how a games developer analyzes the game quality based on game play and game mechanics.
1. GamePlay – Specific way in which players interact with the game. It is basically a pattern defined through the games rules, connection between the players, challenges or levels, and overcoming them, story or plot, and players connection with it. (Source: Wikipedia)
How it should be analyzed:
- Play the Game Extensively – Familiarizing yourself with the game by playing and replaying again and again brings new insights about the game. You will be able to analyze the level of difficulty and elements you have used.
- List Your Analysis While Playing – While playing take notes of the things which are against user-friendliness, and need improvements. List out the thing which you don’t like, things which were unexpected, games relevancy with other available games etc.
- Cheat Codes and Walk-throughs – Use cheat codes and walkthrough videos to understand the plot and relations.
2. Game Mechanics – Game mechanics is the relationships of different game elements like agents, objects, with the game. All together game mechanics defines the set of rules which works behind the scene. All of these together defines the game as a rule-based system, specifying what there is, how things are behaving and how a player can interact with the game world.
How it should be analyzed:
Hence as a game developer it is necessary to analyze the game mechanics which involves virtual items in the game.
- Game world rules – Different models the game tries to simulate, how the game world reacts to the rules of the game. Identify possibilities and impossible elements or action of the game.
- Simulation and Levels of Abstraction – What level of abstraction is the game using? How complex is the simulation, depending on that level of abstraction?
- Game mechanics and resulting dynamics – Is all the possible strategies are being considered by game designer or developer? Or they have missed some more possible strategies. List the strategies which are possibly missed by the game developer.
- Difficulty levels and game balancing – How the game evolve from simpler to more difficult levels? How the difficulties are introduced one at a level on each level, does the game itself educates the player how to play or not. Does the game offers a tutorial to educate the gamers and if yes? then how effect it is.
- Control schemes; control peripherals – It is very important to analyze how players are interacting with the games i.e., through typing in the commands or using a mouse or game controlling devices for it. Are there different ways to configure your controls?
- Audio-visual and graphic elements – Does the audio-video elements complements to the fiction of the game or not. Should have relevant visuals and graphics to support the game story.
- Game Emergence – Is there any room for improvements for emergent game play or the game has specific sequences and guide the player to correct their actions. Or does it allow the player to experiment around to progress in the game?