Game Design Talk: Making Fun Games For the Shallow and Deep Ends of the Pool
A few days ago, I was listening to the most recent episode of the Weekend Confirmed podcast that featured David Jaffe, the original designer behind God of War and Twisted Metal. One topic they talked about in particular caught my ear, and it was a discussion about making games fun for different skill levels. The analogy they used was a pool, where the shallow end of the pool was the place for entry-level players and the deep end for the hardcore crowd.
Making a game that is rewarding to all skill levels is hard.
There are games that have great shallow end but weak deep ends. The games that come to mind that fit this description are the Mario Kart and Mario Party series of games. Any entry-level player can figure out the controls in seconds and have a blast, but advanced players often complain about the random elements that punish players for being ahead, which can make your overall skill in the game less valuable.
On the other end of the spectrum, most fighting games have great deep ends and weak shallow ends. I’m having the most fun now playing Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition Version 2012, but it’s taken me years of practice to get as much out of the game as I do. The shallow end of fighting games usually sucks, as they require players to learn complex button inputs for special moves, alongside learning how to leverage complex game mechanics to your advantage.
With that in mind, I pose these three questions to you:
1) What games have a great shallow end but weak deep end?
2) What games have a great deep end but weak shallow end?
3) What games are equally rewarding across all ends of the metaphorical pool?
Love to hear from you in the comments!