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Is there a winning formula that goes beyond personal preference and into the history books? By the same token, can a game be objectively bad? Are people who get enjoyment from ET for Atari and Superman 64 just plain wrong?

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So, you can objectify communication in design, but there are many ways a game can be good or not. The things you can objectify are all the things that can go wrong as a result of poor communication, bugs, glitches, etc: people don't understand a mechanic because it wasn't well explained. People can't cut tutorials, so they'll never know certain moves are even possible. This amazing weapon is only given to players who beat the single-player campaign and gives them an advantage over everyone else, ruining the balance.

One thing Miyamoto mentions is very difficultly designed games are difficult to play and not very fun. So he prefers to give players two simple tasks to juggle at once. This is ideal because instead of gamers getting stuck on very difficult puzzles that cannot be solved, or stressing out over complicated controls are not actually having fun. But when you have a couple things to manage it becomes much easier for the game to be communicated and to be played but still very challenging. A good idea solves many problems at once.

The biggest thing people will complain about are controls. If the game does not control naturally, then every second you spend with it is terrible. This is why Superman got on the list and not Super Mario 64.

Posted August 9th by mariomguy

Here are my thoughts on it. And I am not going to debate anyone. But I feel that some people will say that video games are art, and so they are only measured in worth by personal preference and everyone is different.

I agree that art is appreciated in different ways by different people. What you call art someone else might say is stupid. However, that viewpoint is flawed. Here is the reason.

Video games aren't JUST art. They're also products. Products that people pay for and dedicate good amounts of time and energy to in what little personal time this world offers us. There needs to be quality control to protect both the consumer and the developer. To ensure that developers are paid a fair wage and given enough time to complete a game. And also, a game needs to be enjoyable and as advertised so that, like in any business model, the consumer is happy and keeps coming back for more.

If there is no objective quality associated with video games then that means there's no quality control either. If you don't respect a season critic, or even better, 50 seasoned critics, telling you a game is a steaming pile of horse shit - then what you're doing is saying journalism and reviewing and game testing aren't real professions. That they aren't on the same level. That they don't know what they're talking about. And that your actual subjective opinion means just as much as people who spend their entire working lives protecting consumers from wasting their money on bad media and pointing out the winners so we can enjoy them.

Finally, video games have art as an element. That part is true and that part will always be subjective. But they also have technical elements. Some games are more efficient, intelligent systems, some games offer more play time, more modes, longer story, cheaper dlc, superior physics, more authentic sound effects. Some games are pioneers being the first of their kind. And some games, the lucky few, go on to be legendary, and define their own generation while paving the way for future games. Some games get 50 professional reviews and average above 95/100.

Are those games not objectively good? And if they aren't, then what do you think objectively good even means.

Posted August 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Well I said it before but no imo. I used a different example before but I could also point to say sonic 06. A terrible game if you ask most people (and I may find it terrible myself if I played it today) but I had a lot of fun with it and the flaws I came across did not at all make it less interesting or fun for me at the time.

Like I said before, I feel like the ultimate goal of games is to entertain and if someone is entertained by it, it's hard to say it's objectively bad. But there are varying levels of subjectively bad or good, widespread acclaim or infamy can still be relevant and it can be used to determine a person's decision-making and so on but ultimately no I think.

The same logic applies to supposedly objectively great games too.

Edited August 9th by KnokkelMillennium

Yes, better controls and options in game are another way a game can be objectively superior to another, similar game.

Posted August 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Knuckles I see what you're saying. But what if people just have bad taste in things sometimes? Guilty pleasures are guilty for a reason.

Posted August 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

I guess that's possible but I mean but it's hard to determine if it's all just bad tastes. Because what if they can just see the good in it, and the good shines beyond the bad? And what if that good is valuable enough to the point where they are right to look past the bad?

Posted August 9th by KnokkelMillennium

Here is one constant: games are played by humans, usually those who have brains, ears, and eyeballs.

Using that as the backdrop, your game should, ideally, communicate SOMETHING to the player. If your game fails to communicate, then you can trace back and figure out what was designed poorly.

Think about allowance: what about the design of a thing does it allow you to do? For a teapot, what can you do with it? There's a lid on the top, but the handle is in the way and it's really clumsy to cook anything with it. The only thing that's easy to put in it is water. There's a spout at the end that can lift up and it's very easy to grab the handle and dip it down, pouring liquid. Everything you can do with a teapot influences how you use that object. Now, how many people use duct tape for things you shouldn't use duct tape for? The allowance of duct tape is much greater, but it's not controlled.

In a level, does the level allow you to hide behind boxes, jump over them, break them? Is there room to take multiple paths, or room in the sky to fly? Now, what SHOULD you do in this situation? The better you are at communicating, the better other people will be able to understand your game. That is objective: take Murphy's Law and run with it!

Posted August 9th by mariomguy

Just to add on to what I mean, Fox, not a direct addressing to what you wrote. Some people like to sniff fermented piss and shit to get high. Some people like kiddy porn. Some people like to stick metal objects into power outlets for the adrenaline rush, some people actually like work.

That last one is a joke. But what I am saying is that anomalies are kept out of statics for a reason. The weird person who thinks Sonic 06 is a good game is an anomaly. Maybe you like a certain soundtrack piece, or the art direction. As I said in my larger post, those aspects ARE subjective. Because they are based on art. But they don't decide if the game is objectively good or not.

Some people have shitty taste, and some people are weirdoes or masochists. Those people don't get to have a say in whether or not the general public is going to like or buy a product or not. Their opinions are frankly irrelevant.

Sometimes reviewers have unpopular opinions too. Edge gave Final Fantasy 10 a 6/10 when it averaged 91/100. Bit that's why a large number of reviewers review the content. To ensure that it averages out. If some dickhead reviewer gave The Last of Us a 20/100 and couldn't back it up they wouldn't be part of the aggregate numbers.

Posted August 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Statistics

Posted August 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Well I suppose we won't see eye to eye on this regardless, but I feel I should say that for something like this to be objective it would have to be generally agreed upon, not agreed on by most people. It'd be different if it was something that can be proven or disproven as a fact but this is based on people's personal enjoyment.

Posted August 9th by KnokkelMillennium

Good and Bad aren't necessarily synonymous with enjoyable and unenjoyable. I recently watched Ant Man 2 just so I could laugh at it. I found laughing at it enjoyable, but I didn't think the movie was good. Some things are enjoyable because of how bad they are.

How much is general agreement? 100 percent? There are over 7 billion of us, dome of us are actually insane and some have Alzheimers and some are just weirdos. Like I am sure there is some idiot out there who eats ductape. General agreement happens when 65 reviewers review a game and more than 60 of them have the same opinion.

Posted August 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

You didn't answer the question anyway. What do you think "objectively good" means? What does something have to do or have in order to be objectively superior to another similar thing?

Posted August 9th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

What do you think "objectively good" means?


Well it means it's factually good which I think is kind of impossible to determine.

Posted August 9th by KnokkelMillennium

something something the last of us.


To answer your question I am not sure. The games within the library of congress are being preserved for their influence on history. (Or something like that)

Posted August 10th by s.o.h.
s.o.h.
 

I would point out that the job of a games reviewer isn't just to offer whether or not a game is objectively good. Their job is to play the game and then provide you with their opinion on it. This includes objectivity where possible, but at the end of the day if one person thinks one thing is good and another thinks it's bad you can't really say either are correct because it is what they think. I think I found a good example in the IGN and Gamespot reviews of Sonic 06 and Sonic (original) respectively:

IGN:
Take the major player, Sonic. He accelerates slowly and only starts going with the help of speed pads on the floor. Making matters worse, the levels themselves force him to a grinding halt almost constantly. He needs to stop to handle environmental hazards and enemies, and forget about bumping into anything because it yanks him back to zero.


GameSpot:
For as much speeding through loops and across a variety of lush, checkerboard environments as you'll do, there are also plenty of bottomless pits, spike traps, and antagonistic robots to worry about. Knowing when to hit the brakes is key, as the game has a habit of throwing a ring-stealing obstacle in your path right when you feel like you're hitting your stride.

Later:
While Sega has, over the years, refined the Sonic formula into a supersonic rollercoaster ride, this is still a fine piece of platforming, something that is in curiously short supply on XBLA.


Here you have an example of IGN criticizing what is a common element of platformers. Especially Sonic games. Whereas GameSpot is saying this type of level design is a good thing in the original Sonic.

While they are reviewing two different games in the series, they both seem to have very different opinions about what makes a good Sonic game. Neither is right or wrong and you'll note they don't present their opinion in a subjective way as they simply discuss objectively what the game does but present it as a good or bad thing.

If you go through enough reviews you will find this sort of thing a lot and that's why ultimately the number at the end of a review means absolutely nothing, I've seen reviews at times that rip a game to shreds and then end with "Despite all this, I enjoyed it so it gets [high score]". You need to put more emphasis on what the reviewer is actually saying and less on the end score they give a game. You have to read what they said and then decide if what they disliked is something you like or not.

Another example of oddities in reviews, again from IGN's "review" (if you can call it that, it delves into very little detail) of Sonic Arcade:
To further differentiate itself from the granddaddy of all great platformers, Super Mario Bros., Sonic introduced a health system of sorts.


This is factually wrong. Super Mario Bros has a health system, he collects power ups and those give him extra hits. So Sonic doesn't differentiate itself from Mario at all by "introducing" a health system. it differentiates in how the health system works.

Reviewers are not always right just because they are professionals at reviewing something.

some people actually like work.

That last one is a joke.


But... I like my work...

I am probably an anomaly though. I found a job doing something I enjoy and it's rewarding on more than just a financial level.

_________________________________________________________________________________

So my answer is no, a game cannot be objectively good or bad as a whole. It can have parts that are objectively good or bad, but you have to include the subjective parts when determining your final opinion. Sometimes the objective parts outweigh the subjective parts and allow you to like or dislike a game, but sometimes people get past this and think a game is good anyway.

You also have to consider multiple versions of a game. Is Arkham Knight objectively a bad game? I suspect most people's reply in this thread would be no, but then I'd just point out the PC release doesn't work for most people. Is the game still good? I suppose you can separate out the different versions of a game (and reviewers usually do) but I think it's an important thing to consider.

I also think it would be safe to say on an objective level Mass Effect Andromeda is a good game (after they fixed the initial bugs, none of which I actually ever encountered I might add). It pretty much plays like most other Mass Effect games just with a couple of additional things like the jetpack. However I don't really like it that much for subjective reasons in regards to the story and characters. IGN gave it a 7.7, PC gamer gave it an 80%, Metacritic holds it at 72% from 37 critics. The main complaints of both being the bugs that got fixed and the story aspects...

By your logic, that reviewers are the final deciders of a good or bad deciders of a game, Mass Affect Andromeda is a good game yet you yourself refer to it as not a good game. It is in fact the fans, those unprofessional people who apparently shouldn't decide for themselves what to like or not like, who decided it was a bad game.

So yea... There's so much inconsistency all over the place with reviews and opinions of games that I don't understand how you could come to any conclusion other than games are subjectively good/bad but you can break down some elements on objective levels.

Some people have shitty taste, and some people are weirdoes or masochists. Those people don't get to have a say in whether or not the general public is going to like or buy a product or not. Their opinions are frankly irrelevant.


The examples you have used are things that as a society we don't consider normal and don't really line up with the point you're making. Enjoying being pissed on is completely different from liking a game that most people hate.

Edited August 10th by Moonray
Moonray
 

Just gonna say it - even going by reviewers Andromeda averages about 10-15 out of 100 less than the other 3. It's an acceptable game. Mass Effect 2 and 3 have scores that would get them into Harvard if they were essay papers.

Posted August 10th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

But sora, i thought
You liked games

Posted August 10th by Brandy

72% is still good though. It's more than just acceptable.

Posted August 11th by Moonray
Moonray
 

Not really. 5/10 and anything lower is an abyssmal failure most of the time when it comes to games. Usually the difference between 1/10 and 5/10 is that, while both are trash, the 5/10 game is barely playable and maybe has some endeering music or effort despite being shit.

7/10 is really what 5/10 should be. A halfway point between total shit and excellence.

Posted August 11th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

If ONE reviewer gave Andromeda 7/10 and a bunch more gave it high eighties and nineties then sure, your point is well made. But since it averaged 7/10 then that means it is a solid decent attempt at a game. But, no pun intended, it's not even in the same stratosphere, as the other entries in the series. The game industry is weird. The difference between 94/100 and 97/100 is actually more than the difference between 1/10 and 5/10.

Posted August 11th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

The one percent between 99/100 and 100/100 is a Mich harder 1 percent to attain than the 1 percent between 72 and 73. Is I guess what I am saying. What would Ocarina of Time needed to do to attain that illusive final 1 percent?

Posted August 11th by I killed Mufasa
I killed Mufasa
long live the king

Let's look at some IGN reviews:

Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal scored 4.0/10. No mention whatsoever of it being "barely playable" they just didn't like a lot of the game design and play but then it's target audience are younger kids who probably enjoyed it quite a lot so...

Umbrella Corps scored 3.8/10. Again no mention of it being "barely playable" they just find it dull and not well designed.

Rugby World Cup scored 1.5/10. Now we see a mention of the game being unplayable.

Seems like you're wrong and there is quite a difference in the scoring of games in the 1-5 region.

The issue is that reviewers don't want to put low scores on AAA games unless they absolutely deserve it. My whole point with all of this is you can't use them as the definitively answer to what a game really is, you can only use what they say in a review, and not their arbitrary scoring systems to inform your own decision about whether or not you want to give a game a try. They don't exist to determine the absolute certainty of what a game is worth, they exist to advise. It's then up to the individual consumer to decide if the game was good or not.

If ONE reviewer gave Andromeda 7/10 and a bunch more gave it high eighties and nineties then sure, your point is well made.


Not sure how this disproves anything I have said? You'll have to explain it to me.

Posted August 11th by Moonray
Moonray
 

No. Whether you want to push more on the idea that "games are art" or just focus on the notion that "games are just pieces of entertainment to be enjoyed," both are fundamentally subjective.

I also don't necessarily believe that design can be objectively good or bad. (I also just think that's a contrived dichotomy to establish.) The lens we see design should not be through "good/bad" but more "effective/ineffective."

It's a mistake to look at individual mechanics and say they - isolated - are "objectively good or bad." It has to work in the context of the game. A game is the sum of all its parts, so you can't really pick and choose certain elements that are "objectively good" if the end result is a game that you find bad and not very fun to play.


Video games aren't JUST art. They're also products. Products that people pay for and dedicate good amounts of time and energy to in what little personal time this world offers us.


Even through this lens, there is no real "objective truth." I bought a Roomba knock off a year ago, and I've found it to be a solid product. It's not the best robotic vacuum ever, but it's more than adequate for my needs. It's totally fine. Good, even. It does not have many good reviews from other consumers. So how do we determine if this product is objectively good or bad?

Conversely, I have had horrible luck with Fitbits. I've gone through, like, four in a year because they keep dying super quickly. To me, Fitbits are complete garbage and I don't trust the brand. Yet a quick search online shows me that I'm in the minority. That for most other people, they have had better luck and enjoyed Fitbits as a product. They find them good, even.

Being a product doesn't really mean anything about whether something can be objectively good or bad.



Posted August 11th by Crewman Jumping Jacks
Reply to: Can games be objectively good/great?
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