Break It Down For Me Fellas

So the July Monthly Indie Games Roundup is up.

(By the way, if you haven’t tried Ye Olde Truck Dismount game, well, ya should.)

This gets me to thinkin’. (I’m obsessive that way.) I’ve read the Roundup every month since I found it, and I just keep wondering. These guys talk amongst themselves (if filing a one-paragraph review on a game can be described in such a manner) casually about how a certain game “is a Diablo II clone, and much better than most” or “is another R-type game”, and it sets my mind to spinning…

…how many kinds of games are there? Is it, perhaps, a finite set?

Of course, that notion is absurd. However… when you throw out every type of game that doesn’t score a 9 or a 10, the field shrinks dramatically. I’m starting to believe that there is a finite set of interesting games that can strike the fancy of humans. One list might look like this:

– the diablo (top-down iso real-time RPG with random dungeon generation)
– the rogue (top-down turn-based RPG with random dungeon generation)
– the xevious (top-down game-paced top-scrolling shooter)
– the commando (top-down player-paced top-scrolling shooter)
– the r-type (side scrolling game-paced shooter)
– the mario (side scrolling 2d platformer)
– the metroid (side-scrolling 2d platformer + shooter with up and down scrolling)
– the arkanoid (paddle-based ball & wall)
– the marble madness (or, the hamsterball if you prefer)
– the bejeweled (pattern matching grid game)
– the tetris (pattern matching time pressure game)
– the street fighter (2d fighter)
– the duck hunt (shooting gallery; also known as the hogan’s alley)
– the bioware (top-down iso RPG)
– the kotor (3rd person turn-based-combat RPG)
– the zelda (3rd person realtime-combat RPG)
– the wolfenstein (1st-person shooter)
– the hitman (3rd-person shooter)
– the minesweeper
– the pinball
– the [insert all sports types]
– …?

There are more, I am sure. Help me out here.

[Edit 11:11am: I’ve been helped! Here’s my digestion of the brave Druid’s post:

– the starcraft (top-down RTS)
– the battlezone (first-person RTS; lo, may we someday again meet one of your elusive kin)
– the sim city (city simulator)
– the civilization (turn-based cultural RPG)
– the sims (people simulator)
– the tamagotchi (pet simulator)
– the [insert all card games]
– the risk (turn-based unit-based map-based warfare)
– the advance wars (turn-based tactical warfare)
– the mario 64 (3D platformer)
– the druid is a sarcastic whiner (text adventures)
– the myst (1st-person clicky adventure)
– the police quest (3rd-person clicky adventure)
– the ddr (rhythm game)
– the robotron (swarm-based speed shooter; also known as the sinistar)
– the space hulk (turn-based squad-based action)
– the pac-man (speed-based vacuum game; also known as the katamari)
– the insaniquarium (swarm-based speed vacuum game?)
– the tempest (something completely unique, and never repeated; also known as the qix)
– the panzer dragoon (3D rail-shooter)
– the lineage (3rd-person iso massive online RPG)
– the world of warcraft (3rd person massive online RPG; also known, by heretics, as the everquest)
– the house of the dead (action-arcade shooting gallery)

…we’re doin’ pretty good! Are there more?]

[Edit 4:16pm: A few more occur to me:

– the contra (2D player-paced side-scrolling shooter)
– the kirby (2D player-paced side-scrolling fighter; also known as the rygar)
– the gauntlet (1 to 4-player top-down brawler)
– the dragon’s lair (interactive movie)
– the resident evil (3rd-person survival horror)
– the grand theft auto (3rd-person urban life simulation)


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2 thoughts on “Break It Down For Me Fellas”

  1. I totally agree that we’re bounded by biology; I include the interest paths carved into our brains in that word, and that is where I think the line lies for the finite set (if there is such a thing).

    I updated the list with your suggestions; the world thanks you for your efforts to stifle creativity by reducing the whole interactive genre into a simple list of repeatable elements that can then be mined for money, like thorium ore in World of Warcraft.

  2. Your list makes me sad. I’ve played all of those games – does that mean that I should just give up the hobby, because everything I’m going to play is just a rehash of a game I’ve already played?

    Oh, you forgot:

    1) The entire RTS field
    2) Sandbox games like Sim City
    3) Freecell/Solitaire
    4) Turn based strategy (e.g. Empire, Risk, etc)
    5) Turn based tactics (xcom)
    6) 3d Platformers (Mario64, Prince of Persia, etc)
    7) Text adventures (oh, that’s right, you wanted interesting games 🙂
    8) Your Myst-type games (Yawn)
    9) Rhythm games (DDR)
    10) Dating sims (might fall into the Myst or Text Adventure category, though).

    And then there’s the weird stuff that I’m not sure where it fits:

    1) Pac-Man/Q-Bert/etc (chase games)
    2) Rez
    3) Hybrids, like first-person RTSes
    4) Old, odd shooters like Tempest and Robotron, or Quantum (where you draw circles around items you want to catch)
    5) Virtual Pets/Tamagochis

    I’m leaving out stuff like MMOs (which probably have enough unique elements to deserve their own genre) and marginal genres like first-person RPGs, etc.

    Anyhow, I don’t necessarily agree that there’s a finite set of game types – if there is truly a finite set of games, then ultimately it’s bounded by our biology more than anything (a game where you strive to identify different smells under time pressure is probably not going to excite us, while dogs would undoubtedly love it, whereas a game where we manipulate objects with our hands/paws would have the opposite effect).

    And I think we have a long way to go technologically before we’ve hit the boundaries set by our biology, so I still expect to see new game types emerge for the extent of my lifetime at least.

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