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My perfect video game

What makes the perfect video game? It’s a difficult question because there’s no single right answer. Everyone has their own favourite genre, gameplay mechanic, art-style and narrative direction – so what makes a title amazing to one player is going to turn another off completely.

mckliz from McKenna Talks About Games gave her nominees the chance to ponder this while sharing a Sunshine Blogger Award earlier this month, after asking what a release designed by them would be like. I have a feeling that elements from Celeste or The Legend of Zelda releases might feature in her own response to her question! This post is dedicated to this blogger and covers the elements that would make up my own perfect game and, if it’s ever made, you can be sure I’ll be following her tips for the perfect night-in while playing it.

The Secret of Monkey Island, video game, ghost, pirates, LeChuck, Guybrush Threepwood, root beer, grog machine, Stan's Previously Owned Vessels, boatyard

Genre

I don’t think there’s any doubt which genre my video game is going to fall under. Everyone who regularly visits Later Levels will know I’m all about adventures so this release is definitely going to be a point-and-click! They encompass everything I love most about gaming: great characters, an amazing storyline which goes through plenty of twists, and gameplay where you have to use your brain in order to progress. Now let’s dig into those elements a bit further to find out what the player is getting themselves into…

Protagonist

Although some people prefer to play as a character who’s totally different to themselves, I like strong female protagonists who aren’t afraid to speak their mind. Think Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn, ZoΓ« from the Dreamfall games and Commander Shepard from Mass Effect. ‘Strong’ doesn’t necessarily mean perfect though; each have their flaws and weaknesses, and their vulnerabilities are shown during their storylines. Give me someone who’s relatable and worthy of looking up to regardless of their background.

The Red Strings Club, video game, bar, woman, Larissa, bartender, Donovan, android, Akara

Story

My favourite stories are usually those grounded in reality but where something is a little ‘off’. They start with an inciting incident in the real-world, either during the present day or near future, and it soon becomes apparent its cause is something very unusual: a parallel universe, time-travel or rogue artificial intelligence (AI) for example. There would be lots of secrets to uncover so you’d be left guessing all the way through, but there would be no pesky plot-holes left open by the time the end-credits rolled.

Gameplay

I have have to stay true to my roots: the gameplay for my release would take the form of a traditional point-and-click. I’d do away with verbs but stick to dialogue trees, inventory combinations and plenty of puzzles; and each would be carefully implemented to be a narrative channel rather than an artificial game-lengthener. There would be no character-switching so the player could get to know one protagonist fully, and after enough content to keep you going for a month you wouldn’t want to leave their world when the end credits rolled.

Cognition, An Erica Reed Thriller, Erica Reed, FBI, face, gun

Visual style

This is perhaps the toughest element to decide on because there are a few visual styles which appeal to me. You can’t beat a bit of photo-realism to help bring you into a title’s world but there’s something about 2D pixelated art which makes me want to jump into an adventure. However, for this release I think I’m going to go for something like that used in Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller. There’s something about that comic-book style that I think would really suit the type of storyline and protagonist I’m going for.

Audio style

A lot of adventures made in the classic style forgo voice-acting and instead use display text. But I think it adds something special if done well, so let’s get in someone like Sarah Grayson – who did a superb job of voicing Samantha Greenbriar in Gone Home. The soundtrack therefore needs to be something subtle enough to not drown out her work, but with the ability to effectively highlight the current feeling through the game. Is it also possible to add in an 80s-inspired track somewhere, like on a radio in the background?

Gone Home, video game, photograph, dark room, hands

Replayability

This is a one-and-done kind of video game. Many players are keen on non-linear storylines and meaningful decisions, but these mechanics can result in perfect ending pressure and are rather anxiety-inducing when you’re a perfectionist! Knowing your decisions won’t have any unintended negative effects because you’re ultimately going to arrive at the same end point as everyone else can be liberating. All you need to do is sit back, drive the game forward at your own pace and enjoy the plot as the developer intended to tell it.

Title

One of the things I struggle with most when it comes to blogging is finding a good title for posts I’ve written. It’s therefore understandable that coming up with a name for my game is just as difficult, so I turned to my friends for their suggestions. The one I like best comes courtesy of Phil and is Call of Data. It nicely alludes to a career change I went through this summer, and seems would be fitting for a storyline where dangerous technology and AI were involved somewhere.

A huge thank you to mckliz for very kindly nominating Later Levels for the Sunshine Blogger Award – and to any developer reading this post who’d like to make the game above for me! Now, what would your own perfect video game be like?

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

13 thoughts on “My perfect video game Leave a comment

  1. I really like how you specified that there would be no character switching! If I like the main character, I want to play as the main character, and not suddenly as some random sidekick. It’s like leaving your car at a mechanic’s shop and borrowing your friend’s crappy car for that time…
    And if I don’t like the main character, well, we have a lot bigger problems then πŸ™‚

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    • A fellow non-character-switcher! I just really don’t get along with the mechanic. I’m the same as you: if I like a protagonist, then I want to follow their journey throughout the game and not keep being thrown out of their story.

      Have you played The Little Acre? 19 character-switches in just over 90 minutes… that was tough.

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      • Oh God. I haven’t played it, but I’m getting Vietnam flashbacks just by hearing about it πŸ™‚

        Where I don’t really mind character switches (although I still don’t prefer them) is when there really are multiple main characters, with their own storylines. Boof of Unwritten Tales comes to mind, or Of Orcs and Men.

        Of course, when the characters just don’t matter (for example, Call of Duty), I don’t really care about switching characters.

        Funny enough, I don’t even like switches within a series of games, if there is one “established” main character throughout most of the series. For example, in Star Warrs: Jedi Knight, we play as Kyle Katarn in the first four games, and then suddenly we are a random Padawan. Just imagine if Monkey Island 6 would put us in the shoes of Otis! We’d be victims of society!

        What’s your stance on these three variations?

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        • The first: I’d still rather not switch characters even if there are multiple protagonists. For me personally, I find it quite jarring and it ruins the immersion.

          The second: the same as you, I don’t really care!

          The third: I agree with you here too. For example, it took me a long time to accept that the second and third games in the Dreamfall series were from ZoΓ«’s perspective rather than April’s, and I hated her character at first even though she’s now one of my favourites!

          I get that sometimes developers use the character-switch to introduce new mechanics and keep things fresh. But I’d just rather stick with one protagonist and see their journey through to the end. πŸ˜‰

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Great response! While I do enjoy non-linear games, I definitely experience that decision-making anxiety, and often prefer the strong stories that more linear games tend to have. I should answer my own question sometime!

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    • I can recommend it, I had a lot of fun writing this post! Some of my answers weren’t what I expected them to be – I surprised myself by not creating a 2D pixel-art game. πŸ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hmm I actually just played a game that made me swap characters, admittedly it was a DLC to accompany the main game and entirely optional but clarified additional lore and events and gave a point of view separate from your main character. It was quite pleasant actually to take the break and play through the new perspective, of course it would destroy any tension if my main character were an unreliable narrator but the game is played from 3rd person so it worked incredibly well to switch. (I’m referring to Varnhold’s Lot DLC for Pathfinder: Kingmaker)

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    • Do you think you got more out of it because you experienced the character-switch after completing the main game? I have to say, I didn’t mind the switch from George to Nico when I played the Director’s Cut of Broken Sword – but that was after playing the original (which didn’t contain any switching) a number of years ago.

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      • The character switch is mid game, and if you make the right decisions you can even meet your character as an NPC. It’s precisely because it’s midgame switch that makes it memorable .. like how fantasy books follow multiple protagonists across geographic areas but have events occurring at the same time.

        Liked by 1 person

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