Designing your game : Never mix up "Cool" for "Interesting"

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by CMaxo, Nov 23, 2016.

  1. CMaxo

    CMaxo New Member

    Nov 21, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Hello all!

    I wish to share and discuss with you something that I have researched and analyzed for many years.
    It's something that is often mistaken even by veterans in the video game development industry and where some have mastered without even understanding what it was (through tries and errors).

    What I'm about to explain to you might make a huge different between success and failure... even though it's something relatively simple and short to explain.

    The thing I am about to explain to you is that "Cool" and "Interesting" are never the same things and should never be considered as the same thing.

    First, let's define both terms with, in mind, video games:

    Cool : In video games, something cool is something that give an immediate impact by the standards of its viewer or listener. Anything can be cool : a cool car, a cool character, a cool sound, a cool music and even a cool world!

    Interesting : In video games, something interesting is something that pick the interest of its viewer or listener. It can be anything from an interesting car, an interesting character, an interesting sound or music and even an interesting world. Something interesting is often seen as something original, but not always as such.

    Now, in the recent years, many games, AAA and indies, have made the huge mistake of thinking both terms as something with the same effect. The devs behind those game made the mistake of thinking that Something Cool is always Interesting and/or Something Interesting is always something Cool.

    That's a huge mistake and is what have been plaguing the game industry with the wrong idea that gasping the market is way harder than before. The reality is not that. In reality, something cool might be interesting, but might also be boring. Something Interesting might be cool, but it might be not cool.

    Let's put some examples of a well known game IP where those 2 features were mixed up: Devil May Cry

    In the original Devil May Cry, the main protagonist Dante was both Cool and Interesting. He was seen as cool because his design was cool and the animation were exaggerated like an anime. He was cool because he was able to use many weapons in both serious and funny ways. He was cool because nothing seemed to phase him unless it was about money or some pretty girl. But he wasn't interesting for those reason. He was interesting because he had a strange unique background story. He was interesting because whenever his reactions were not always foreseen and, something, wouldn't make senses either. He was interesting because he was displaying both his movement and how he talk that he's a badass with experience in killing demons.

    The 2nd Devil May Cry was considered a bad game because they turned his "interesting side" off by completely ignoring any kind of actual emotional plot and reaction from him. He was "only cool".

    In the 3rd Devil May Cry, the brought back the emotional plot (with more backstory about his father and his brother) and reactions while keeping the same "cool guy" side as ever. That game was an huge success.

    In the 4th Devil May Cry, they added a new character for 3/5 of the game as the main character. That character lacked the "Cool" side of Dante, but still had a bit of it and that did hurt the game when being reviewed by both the player and pros reviewers. What saved a big chunk of the game was that they did add content that linked emotionally the 4th game to the 3rd. (In other words, the 4th game sucked a bit of the success of the 3rd.)

    Now, when they released the latest Devil May Cry, why do you think it relatively failed to reach the expectation of Capcom? They made the same mistake as in the 2nd Devil May Cry. The problem was not that they redid Dante from scratch, but that they tried to made him Cool, yet forgot to put any kind of actual character into that empty shell. Sometimes, he's a punk, sometimes he's a kid and sometimes he's empty. His brother was the only one with actual emotion and kind of a spirit... yet even him wasn't up to the task of reaching the "cool" level. Hence, the game was "cool yet forgettable". The reviews were greatly positive mostly because of the creativity that surrounded the rest of the game which is what saved it from being a flop. In other words, what made the older DMC were nothing alike to what made the latest DMC loved by the player. If the next DMC follows the same road as the latest DMC, it will only slowly fall into oblivion.

    This is what makes Cool different from Interesting.

    Cool is a short term thing while Interesting is a long term thing. You make something cool to make it "punch" and you make it Interesting by surrounding it with a background, a development and psychology that support it.

    One of the most know game villain in the World has both points high : Sephiroth.
    He's cool because his design is/was considered cool. He had a cool song that went with it. He was badass.
    He was Interesting because we couldn't follow his way of thinking. He betrayed, killed and did many things that made us wonder "Why?". Then when we learned his whole story, we almost forgot how much bad thing he did because we all though "Yeah. Now I get it!" That's how Cool and Interesting are used together.

    Another example I could give it is this : Battlefield versus Battlefield Bad Company.
    Why does the Battlefield stories seems to lack what Battlefield Bad Company games has? Don't get me wrong, they both are awesomely made, but what is that little something that BC have over the other?
    The answer is : It's keep its story interesting and even when it ends, you still wonder what's coming next.
    Can you say the same thing with the Battlefield 3 or 4 or 1 stories? Can you say that their story made you attracted to their characters? Can you even name their characters?
    The Battlefield series had Cool single player stories, but not really interesting. The Bad Company series had cool and interesting stories and that's why we love it with Marlowe (main character you control), Gordon, Sweetwater and Redford (Sarge).

    Want to discuss this further?
    Have some question about how you could apply this to your own project?
    Have some example or want to explain why you don't agree?

    Feel free to comment!

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer