(Sometimes Game Developers think they’re making games for rats rather than Humans. We’re quite a bit more pickier and are a little more complex.)

It’s very hard to pinpoint all the reasons a game is good. Sometimes what makes it good for one person has no effect on another. It seems like the best way of figuring out how to make a good game is to look at the ways of ruining a game and then analyze how game designers can avoid such mistakes in an effort to create good games. This list could probably include more than 20 points but just to make it easier to digest and to start a conversation on the topic it’s simply best to go over the top five. These are the best ways a developer can ruin their game:

Number 5
Too many Glitches


Sometimes gamers want to beat games or actually get past the first level. Pretty original idea right? 😀 . But seriously, why do game publishers have to apply so much pressure on game developers that they end up shipping games half complete. You can’t expect gamers to enjoy a game that isn’t smooth, crashes their console, kills them randomly, or stops them from completing the game because of a glitch.

All developers have to do is sit down and debug their software but sometimes the allure of money is simply too much especially when you’re weeks away from completion and exhausted from the months or years of work you’ve done. Simply put, Game Developers, don’t release unfinished games. Here are some funny videos with some of gaming history’s best glitches.

Number 4
Bad Camera / Creates bad Camera angles


This issue is very reminiscent of the 1990’s where developers had issues understanding how a proper camera should work and as a result, ended up failing miserably until they figured it out. While understandable back then, a long time has passed, and having bad camera issues today is completely unacceptable for any modern Game Developer.

Some games, especially platformers, require a precise camera angle so that the player doesn’t fall to their death or encounter an enemy too suddenly. Given that, you can see how a bad camera can totally ruin a game.

Number 3
Artificial Difficulty = Lack of Checkpoints or saves, Cheap deaths, Not enough items / Actual Difficulty

Some games, in order to make themselves appear to be more difficult, implement game elements that frustrate the player. Games need to meet a happy medium where they balance the desire of a gamer to be challenged and feel accomplished versus being frustrated and upset.

Sometimes the cause of the frustration is due to a Game Developers need to create something I call Artificial difficulty. Artificial difficulty is created in a number of ways. The first is making it extremely hard for a person to save or creating limited checkpoints. A checkpoint is simply a place in the game where the player is allowed to retry. Some games save automatically and constantly but if you die they make you restart the whole level. The beginning of the level then is the start of the checkpoint.

If you spent half an hour to get to where you were, you now spend that half hour again. I understand making players play a portion of what they did, as a punishment, but there is a red line game developers should not cross. At a certain point the game isn’t fun and you’ve created an artificial way of increasing the game time of a game by forcing replays. This is best experienced by playing Dark Souls or Demon Souls. The game saves frantically but you find yourself replaying whole levels simply because you died, something that can occur because of no fault of your own.

Another way to create artificial difficulty is limiting items essential for survival or not giving the player weapons that would be required to beat a certain boss.

On another note entirely a game being too difficult in general is also a red flag. Games like Superman on the N64 don’t give you any room to succeed except perfection. You redo levels a thousand times because you were half a second away from reaching the finishing line. Games that don’t give any mercy and leave no room at all for flexibility really take away from the enjoyment of playing. How can you expect perfection from a gamer and expect that same person to replay a level until they do it the way you want in a very short period of time?

Artificial difficulty and extreme real difficulty are two easy ways to tank your game and leave gamers never wanting to touch your creations again.

Number 2
Sloppy Controls/ Game Mechanics


If your game is an FPS shooter, than aiming and shooting should be precise. If it’s a sports game then it should correctly allow you to control your player and represent the game. If you can’t even dribble the ball right in a Basketball game and constantly struggle with controls, you’re not going to enjoy the game.

Whatever the game is aiming to do and however it asks you to interact with the player, it needs to be solid. Game Designers need to allow a smooth interaction between the player, their controller, and the game.

Too much lag due to inputs, confusing button setups, or bad controls can easily destroy any game. A game is a game after all and if the player can’t interact well with it, the game won’t be enjoyable. Make sure the game mechanics are solid.

Number 1
ABad Story


This isn’t just some story you slightly regret or a game that had an ending you didn’t expect. Having a bad story means you never feel immersed in the game, you don’t ever get committed to the characters, and everything gets confusing when the plot is getting told.

This is why a lot of current day Final Fantasy’s are suffering. Convoluted plots and complexity take the place of simplicity and a cast of characters you know and enjoy. The need to create drama or become epic stop you from ever immersing yourself.

A bunch of games get released with stories but games like Red Dead Redemption, Fallout, Kingdom Hearts, or Mass Effect become great because they slowly sing the gamer a small tale, introduce them to a grand new world, and allow them the freedom to move around it and experience it properly without being jolted by random plot lines and introductions of random side characters that mean nothing in the end.

There are a lot of games with great controls, great graphics, and millions of dollars poured into them. Why don’t they become instant franchises? The bane of each and every one of these games is that their story is simply not compelling enough. What makes a great game, at the end of the day, is the narrative. The story, the characters, the world, the believability of it all, the immersion, and the experience makes a record breaking franchise.

And with that, this narrative comes to a close, hopefully giving game developers some hints on how not to shoot their games, and themselves, in the foot. 



Like this Article? Subscribe to Our Feed!

Related Stories:

Leave a reply »

  • Kelsey Miller
    November 12, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I’m not sure if I agree with the ranking of these five, but I definitely agree with them in general. Number three interests me in particular. I don’t mind “artificial” difficulty if it’s been clearly broadcasted to me as something I need to take into account early on in the game. I’m cool with games that put it in there so that I have to develop strategies. Or, if something happens unexpectedly in the story, and it is reflected in the change, that’s awesome. Usually skill does calculate in (ie if you’re a better fighter, you don’t need so many health packs).
    But when you’re halfway through a game and all of a sudden there’s this unexplainable inconsistency, a change that’s poorly integrated, it gets annoying. I’m trying to think of one in specific, but my memory is failing me…
    Anyways, creators of Kinect games really need to look at this list…

  • Daniel Flatt
    November 12, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Overall I feel that Number 3 and Number 1 are highly subjective. While I too feel the same way about artificial difficulty I don’t believe it can be thrown on this list of universal wrongs that developers can commit simply because some people LOVE, nay CRAVE, artifical difficulty in their games.

    As far as great games have to have a good story there is a certain Italian plumber that would like to speak with you.

    Other than those two points though camera, sloppy controls and gameplay mechanics and glitches are all definitely universal things that developers have to strive to nail if they want a hit. Sometimes though having one of these doesn’t make a bad game, such as with Assassin’s Creed 3. I love the game, despite it’s many bugs it manages to rise above them. They are certainly annoying when they happen, but the game succeeds in spite of them. Obviously it would have been better without them at all, but it certainly didn’t make it a bad game.

    If I had to replace the two that I disagree are universal wrongs I would say poor user interface and bad sound quality. For me the quickest way to ruin an experience is to have absolutely atrocious voice actors or have a tinny sound to your effects.

  • November 12, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Very good points to both of you.

    Artificial difficulty is something that is definitely up for debate. It definitely could be considered a Game mechanic that can be used or misused properly.

    As for story, I really think that Mario really can’t happen again. Mario was the best and most polished side scroller of its time. The game mechanic was still new and fresh.

    Nowadays making a new genre of gaming is very difficult, and I doubt that alone can sell a good game. Most great genres are already out there, and little room for genre innovation exists.

    Given that, Mario today, would need a good story.

    Thanks again for the awesome comments Kelsey and Dan! 🙂

    • Daniel Flatt
      November 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      I’m really even talking about new Mario. Mario is still out there, still selling huge games and his story isn’t any better or makes any more sense than it did back on the NES. So the statement that a good game has to have a good story is incorrect in most cases. I happen to agree with you about story being important by the way, just not that it’s one of the main things developers need to nail.

      If you have an adventure game, RPG, action game, even an FPS nowadays you have to have a decent story to prop it all up. Other genres though it doesn’t matter, such as platforming. As long as the game mechanics are spot on the why of the situation doesn’t matter within these games.

  • Sean
    November 13, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    Personally I’d replace a Bad Story with bad voice acting. A game can get away without a story (Mario) or with a bad one (Modern Warfare 2) but if it has bad voice acting then getting through the game can actually be painful.

  • November 13, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Bad camera angles are definitely the worst part of a game. A game with bad camera controls makes me want to throw the thing out the window!

  • Kelsey Miller
    November 14, 2012 at 10:32 am

    You could probably make a really gruesome and/or cheesy analogy relating these aspects to organs of a living body.
    You kinda need to balance everything out. People can lack organs and do fine with help of synthetic replacements and etc. On a different note, there are many species in our world and body types within those species, all of which point to the many ways to achieve a working form. Games are the same sort of beasts, methinks, all varied in body and form. The bad ones die out from natural selection, good ones flourish. Occasionally bad luck steps in and mucks up the rules, causing a good game to bite the dust or a bad one to thrive. Yet, as a whole, it seems pretty Darwinian, and we soldier on with it.

    Yeah, I definitely went in the cheesy direction with that one…

  • Brad Lida
    November 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    Number 3. I could kiss you for saying this.
    Artificial difficulty is a huge peeve of mine.
    In starcraft 2, artificial difficulty is added to add balance between the three races.

  • bleachorange
    November 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I have to say a few things –

    1. yes in general to the above

    2. if mario had a plot that made sense, it would be a runaway best seller, even more than it is. or, angry fans would storm nintendo asking why they changed it up.

    3. the ONLY thing that truly matters in the end is this – don’t muck up the selling point of your game. If it’s a stealth game, don’t actionize it at the expense of the core gameplay. if you have a complex, story driven rpg, don’t simplify it to ‘reach a wider audience’. If you have a FPS hit, you know the campaign doesn’t actually matter – At the end of the day, less than a third of the player base of any FPS ‘hit’ actually cares about anything besides online multiplayer. there are exceptions, of course, but this is good life advice – don’t shoot yourself in the foot.

You must log in to post a comment