3 things great games and great content have in common

While strolling through the scenic paths of Ard Skellig the other night I came to think about the things that make some games great: compelling storytelling both in writing an visuals. Here are three things I think great games and great content share:

1. The story is compelling and well told

I’m a sucker for story driven games. Some of my all time favorites are classics like the Dragon Age and Mass Effect -trilogies or The Witcher 3. In these games, the story is well written. There is an emotional charge from the beginning: a homeworld destroyed, a daughter lost. The narrative keeps you in it’s grip, while offering new information in easily digested bits. But on top of all this, it is told with captivating visuals.

Same goes for great content. There needs to be a good balance of compelling written (or spoken, if you’re making – let’s say – podcast) and exciting visual storytelling.

Screenshot of Red Dead Redemption game map
I did NOT hit it off with open world games straight away, but I did warm up to them eventually.

2. You know where to go and what to do next

Open world games and I had a bad start. I’d only ever played very linear games such as Final Fantasy, where there’s always a very clear quest marker to follow. So, when I tried Red Dead Redemption, I hated it. After the first hours I got confused, then frustrated, then angry. I didn’t know where to go, what to do.

With great content, you always have a clear sign of what to do or where to click next. The story needs to progress in a way that makes sense. Otherwise it’s easy for the reader to become frustrated.

However. I’ve since grown to love open world games, and have learned find the more subtle hints of where to find quests and loot. But the hints are still there. It just comes down to my experience as a player to find them. And this goes for great content as well: it gives you the opportunity to have that a-ha! -moment but doesn’t leave you frustrated.

A screenshot from Borderlands 2
Loot, sweet sweet loot.

3. You get rewards – a lot of rewards

Coins, experience points, skills, loot – games know how to reward players. That rush of joy you get when the tetris blocks align or when you get that “quest completed” -message and the XP and loot starts rolling in. Games are also great at leaving you a trace of tasty reward-crumbs to follow: waypoints, levelling your character, advancing the plot bit by bit.

Great content should do the same. Obviously actual diamonds and coins are rarely involved, but there are other ways to reward the reader: information, those a-ha! -moments I mentioned before or even actual downloadables or products to buy.

(This blog was first published as a LinkedIN-article on my profile)

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