Flash games versus ‘big’ games

Posted: December 13, 2008 in Games
Tags: , , ,

A game director that I once studied told me that he really no longer looks at many large blockbuster titles but rather trolls small flash games for interesting ideas. He showed me a few and I’d like to share them:


This one is interesting. What I took from this was how to have the simplest interaction with what makes something ‘fun’ at its core. Try it, see what you think.

This one is by the same guy, and is still interesting, but much more abstract.


Same deal. What is the simplest interaction possible yielding ‘fun’.

Of course, here’s a great study:

Here’s a post to 150 flash games, I’m going to see if I can find any others he cited.


Here’s the problem. I love ‘big’ games. Big budget, huge production values, rich interactions, with great stories or awesome experiences. I want to see zombies, space-ships, space-marines, in HD, with 8 player multiplayer, in an MMO with battlegrounds on the moon. Ok, maybe not on the moon. But having working on many ‘big’ games, I know that the bigger the game, the harder it is to get innovation into it. So, these little games, are great sources of inspiration. So, as a designer, go play a ton of of flash games right? Go look for all these awesome little nuggets of design and rip them off. Right? Well kinda.

These flash games have amazing flexibility, and room to innovate so by all means go look for neat mechanics, or inspiration. The problem is that it probably won’t help you make ‘big’ games. While I still encourage any designer to look at every kind of gaming, ‘big’ games, while not being always innovative, have such an incredible volume, depth and complexity of design challenges that the are worth studying. The larger the game, the challenges aren’t always individually any more complicated, there’s just so many that they together they make a very complicated design space. The problems that ‘big’ games have to solve are so numerous, that it takes teams of designers to solve them. This, combined with trying to make something unique and new makes for something that only crazy people should attempt. And hopefully, you’re that crazy.

Ryan out.

  1. David L. says:

    Good topic, and one I dwell on a lot, too!

    Somewhat related: The small game can also allow for very individual self-expression in a way that big games can’t. Take this completely whacked example:


    When vinyl records became cheap enough that there was no barrier to recording a 45 or an EP album, you got punk rock.

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