Indie game storeFree gamesFun gamesHorror games
Game developmentAssetsComics

great response, i definitely share your sentiment of friends being the main reason i initially got games, especially when i was younger. suikoden 2, ffvii, person 3, chrono trigger, symphonia, secret of mana were all lent/suggested by friends. very powerful gaming experiences.

as for the latter. music is by far the most immersive emotionally touching part of games. certain tracks will easily tear me up.

despite saying all that. gameplay will still be my number one. i suppose it's some inner bias that makes me seek and crave it. i'll be thinking on it.

Of course the gameplay will make me play hundreds of hours, that's what I love so much and played so much of MineCraft, Stronghold Crusader, and Knights of the Old Republic.

But I remember them a lot more for how they used thier mechanics to fit an idea, or an aesthetic.

MineCraft: The imagination of players only got triggered after the game introduces enemies that justified making a strong fortress to protect yourself from them. Are they dangerous later on? Not really, but that initial difficultly in surviving was it it took to kick-start the creativity, and you just go on from there. (The creeper, is the most ingenious enemy ever devised in my mind, it is the counter to all the player's efforts, that allow other mobs to harm you.)

Stronghold Crusader: The whole idea is that it's a medievil castle simulator, all the mechanics serve that one goal, it has plenty of diversity, but it's not drowning in features either, it is just an RTS afterall, it doesn't do grand strategy.

Knights of the Old Republic: Honestly? Other then the battle system, it's not really the most mechanically inclined game, at least for what a video game could be. It's based off the D&D d20 system (most rpgs are based off D&D, even JRPGs, this one is just rather blatant.), but what Bioware did with this rpgs, likely thier earlier rpgs, and definitely with thier spiritual successor Mass Effect, was that they gave you a blank slate protagonist for you to affect to your preference: Light side/Dark side karma/morality meter (in keeping with the star wars licence.), and an intricate level up system featuring feats that can grant unique skills used in battle, to just stats upgrades, and of course base stat points, and skill points, all you allocate however you wish. But then gave you characters who had obvious roles they could serve, and you could just auto-level them up to serve that pre-existing role, especially if you felt it went with thier character better, or you could meta-game and change thier stuff on level up. (and they level up with you, even if they are new or not around, prepare to level up new characters 5-10 times when you get them.) But see, these characters aren't blank. They would in fact be right at home in many jrpgs. Bioware essentially married the 2 sub-genres together. Other then that, you have a plot set within the star wars universe, being a sci-fi universe with plenty of fantasy (you become a jedi, with a light saber, about 10-15 hours in.), and all the decisions you have to make, it would be an interesting game if it had no combat, but I feel the combat is there just to raise the stakes, even the combat is actually fun for glorified turn-based combat.

(and for some reason the bold got stuck there and refused to turn off, I only meant the italics part to be like that. BUG!)

So in otherwords, although I too, once thought it was only about the gameplay, I have recognized that I'm wrong, gameplay is NOT the only reason I play video games, it never was. Super Mario 64 was the first game I really got into, because it was magical that I could explore such interesting, yet strange fantasy 3D environments, that was what got me hooked.

Even some flash games I play for a number of hours have at least an ok to look at art style.

Even Dicewars uses plenty of colour, but is otherwise, perhaps purposefully, minimalistic:

You know all those steam shovelware games people hate so much? Some of them are actually ok games on thier own, but the problem is that they throw a bunch of pre-made assets together that clash when used together. None of them try to be unique, none of them try to differentiate from each other. Now, it's try it's just some people absuing the systems steam has, but I think that would give you a good glismpe of what happens when you only focus on gameplay, and check boxes for a list of features.

I mean.......look at many AAA sandbox games, they are based on a great base, but there's a reason a lot of them feel the same.

(Unless your assassin's Creed, which does do unique stuff.....but only the earlier titles, or so I'm told.)

But perhaps someone else can explain this better, so here, have a look at this video I watched just yesterday:

I keep finding, in creative endeavors, sometimes you just need to limit yourself, to make the best thing, instead of a bunch of decent things in one package.

Erp, that kinda got away from me, I went from "focused goal of the game" to "Minimizing features can help your game."

But, they can go hand in hand.

And beisdes, it's not like an indie game can out-do what AAA devs do anyway.

Use the strength of having only a few people working on something to focus your design, and avoid the kitchensink of features that don't always go together, leave the AAA industry to appeal to everyone, and grab your niche.

Although, that being said, maybe your focused design work might be appaudled by many people anyway if it's really good, who knows?