What makes you decide a new game is worth your time?

Personally, I like to see a range of difficulty especially as I get older. If a game does not have an easy mode to help me learn a game or get started, I am not as interested these days. That plays into a good UI and a tutorial.

I don’t have a lot of gaming time these days, and I’m an open world fan, so that’s what I look for. Witcher 3, for example, is one of my favorite games of all time, as was Skyim, before it.

So for me, looking at a new open world game to play, I look first at the world itself. If it’s different, as in 1940s LA, or some other world that is not the standard fantasy environment, that gets special attention. The more open it is, the more attractive it is, Honestly, for me, the absolute best ever graphics aren’t nearly as important as the world it gives me and the game play. I also look for variable difficulty, I have no desire for frustration these days.

  • A theme that interests me. Doesn’t have to be novel, just interesting
  • A cost which is either at or below what I normally spend (but not too much below, as there’s a silly association between low cost and low perceived value)
  • Word of mouth, either from communities like this or reviews
  • Music and voice work that really grabs me in the videos on its Steam page. I don’t actually listen to game soundtracks on their own, but I’m constantly bombarded by images wherever I go. Having a great audio component stand out helps me remember the game and imagine myself more engaged with it.

Dan’s comment on the theme is something I’d second. When I see another warrior in a fantasy world or another zombie game, I almost immediately pass unless there’s something special (e.g. Witcher 3.)

Also to keep my answers in perspective, I’m pretty exclusively PS4 except for the few strategy games I can play on my laptop (like EU4, which I’m TRYING to get into. )

It needs to be on the Switch and my kids need to be able to play and enjoy it. Ideally, it has couch co-op. Any violence needs to be toned down and/or no more graphic than Breath of the Wild. I don’t have a lot of time for gaming and almost no gaming time that doesn’t involve my kids.

There’s a pretty great thread about this over here, but one thing I find will make me immediately perk up and take notice is a base that I can build up over the course of the game. Stuff like the assassin HQ you can build up in pretty much all the Assassin’s Creed games, or the base in The Division, or even the dorm room in Bully that you can kind of kit out as you play. I love to see that kind of thing. Even the new Metal Gear Survive game, which doesn’t really interest me all that much, looks like it may have this as an element.

This isn’t likely what you were looking for, but I’m going to respond specific to take rimworld as an example I’d flesh out the things you know everyone has talked about wanting.

  1. make it 64 bit so the mod community don’t bog down
  2. take advantage of the 64bit by going z-level, everyone talks about wanting to go up and down in rimworld
  3. complete the world, right now it shows you a world globe, and you can only sort of interact with the game that way, in reality you play 90% of the game on one little square of that world view, it would be A LOT more fun if this built out like minecraft and you interacted with the world as one cohesive playscape (and the AI controlled entities also on the map did the same)
  4. make this actually about aliens, we get a couple interesting things that are a tad alien, lean hard into that
  5. Provide an option to play the game entirely as a colony building exercise, there are plenty of people who want to play a game like this to just build the colony and not have it come inevitably to a tragic end
  6. Leaving the planet could be fleshed out so you actually go somewhere and start a new colony on a new planet entirely different from the one you left

There are my random thoughts off top of my head about rimworld. Oh and to answer the title question, a new game is worth my time to figure out when it gets it’s hooks in me such that I just feel compelled to keep playing it, Rimworld is a perfect example.

  1. Can I afford it.
  2. Am I smart enough to play it.
  3. Will it give me more than a few hours of entertainment.
  4. Am I smart enough to play it.
  5. Can I still afford it?
  6. Is it a theme/type of game I know I might like (for example, I cannot do real time party RPG combat, such as PoE. I’ve tried.)

Mostly price, theme, style, length, difficulty. I need easier games, or at least the option, the older I get, I don’t have time or patience for brutal beat-me-downs anymore, really. I like to win now, honestly. Or at least not have to mightily struggle to do X things perfectly exactly right just to move on to the now do Y things perfectly exactly right.

Like a lot of folks, I buy a lot more games than I play. Then I pay for subscriptions like EA Access, XGP, and Humble Bundle. Maybe I’m a dumbass, maybe I’m a philanthropist, haven’t decided yet.

But anyway, I find myself trying a new game at least once or twice a week. Here’s my “process”:

Stage One: genre, theme, positioning

First, I decide whether I want to play this type of game, so the message conveyed by the cover/sample art (art style matters a lot to me), screenshots, trailers (yes, I watch them for things I already bought/downloaded already) accurate? Second, is this a genre representative I want to play? Is this MOTS, a new wrinkle, a new setting, a brand extension, a rip-off of the category leader (not a disqualifier, Blizzard makes a fine living doing this), hardcore or casual, broad or tightly focused? Again, I’m looking at marketing materials as well as user reviews or positive comments on podcasts.

Stage Two: let’s fire this up!

I’ve done this so many times, and it almost always comes down to: how does the first hour of the game treat my time? Negatives: long cutscenes (unskippable or not, I’m assuming that if you stick it it front of the gameplay you have already sold me; it must be pretty damn important); tutorials that don’t let me proceed at my own pace; intricate but non-interactive world-building; pretty much anything that unduly delays me being in complete control of something.

More later . . .

I want to enter an interesting world where you make interesting decisions that matter. Generally, I’ll read hands-on reviews or watch a Let’s Play to determine whether that is the case in this particular game. I’ve learned that lots of games appear to do this, but it often turns out that in truth it’s all about repetitive killing or quick mouse clicking or following a formula over and over.

Out of the Park Baseball has done this with minimal graphics. Civilization has done it. I am currently optimistic about Spire of Sorcery and That Which Sleeps accomplishing this.

I think your question is confusing. If I go strictly by the thread title, well, that’s a very broad question, with a lot of possible answers - reputation of developer, preferred genre, game play videos to see what I would be buying, etc.

But the body of your post asks something else. There you want to know what would make me buy a game similar to something I have already played, which is an entirely different question.

So which is it, because I see answers to both in this thread.

Actually that is very helpful. My favorite prototype was a space based rimworld inspired game. After Oxygen Not Included came out and the news that Chucklefish is publishing Starmancer (by another small team so I’m happy for them), it made me hesitant to develop my prototype further. However, you’ve given me more things to consider about that now that I see the kind of things that people would want to see in similar rimworld style game. Thanks!

Sorry it was the latter of what you listed. I didn’t want to make the title too long but I see how that could be confusing in hindsight.

I just wanted to say thank you everyone for your input. I really appreciate it and am taking into account what everyone is saying.

Thanks! Also thanks for the link! Checking the thread out now.

When its an indie or solo dev, I am looking for your handwriting or your take on the genre if there is one. Your creative voice in other words.

As a solo developer you are almost certainly not going to have higher production levels than a larger developer but what you can do is innovate around gameplay, or setting or writing or story. Thats what I look for.

If you like games then you already know what people like. For me, it needs to be engaging and then I don’t care much about the rest, but of course everybody has different favorite interests.

Interesting anecdote: there are some AAA titles in my Steam library that say I’ve played them for about 30 hours. And then there’s a game like FTL that shows I’ve played it for 150+.

I will use Rimworld as an example because that’s what I’d hope you would expand on.

Unique systems with layered complexity that’s easy to utilize. Equal that, your gaming time needs to have a story. When you’re done with a 3 hour gaming session, when you’re done for the evening, is it as if you never even played? If not, then it’s not worth my time. Some games do that via progression, but nowadays I’d rather have emergent gameplay or emergent storytelling. When stuff happens in your own game and you want to tell others of your unique experience - that’s where it’s at.

If you did a rimworld offshoot and you had to attach a Fox leg to your human colonist to make him happy cause he was angry about hopping around on one leg - that’s a shareable moment. To me the Sims series got boring because shareable moments mostly disappeared and at best now are just contrived.

Complexity but accessibility shows you care about the player’s intelligence and creates a much deeper experience. As soon as a game shows it’s shallow nature, for me it’s written off. If the game is brain dead - why bother playing when I can play something else that isn’t.

Easy to learn; difficult to master.
But even if I don’t master it, I need to have fun anyway.

For me, the best “new” thing in a game from some genre is new game mechanics.
You see, I see too many games that are just different, but do not do anything new.
A great example are all these crafting-survival games. You can’t swing a dead cat on steam without hitting a dozen of them.

I have played a ridiculous amount of modded minecraft, so you would think these games would be right up my ally. However, the fundamental question is, “What do these games do that modded minecraft doesn’t?” Aside from the graphics, the answer is nothing. Hence my lack of interest in them. There are some, which have been in EA forever, that do have some interest. These revolve around interacting with NPC communities in some way, something totally lacking in modded minecraft.

So, again for me, if there is a new game in a genre I like, my interest lies in new game mechanics.
If your looking for a game, I am still awaiting a proper master of magic remake. Heck, Warlock, master of the Arcane was almost it, except that the AI was completely inept.

I love XCom 2, especially with War of the Chosen. Id love to have a version of something like that where each side in the game could use a point buy system to buy advantages / disadvantages that would apply to the entire game. IE: XCOM starts with a psi-ops facility and a few basic psi soldiers. The aliens always of mechs, but never have mutons. That sort of thing. Mystery win-conditions would also be cool to add.