The Developer Manifesto
Intending to outline a set of commonly-held principles and beliefs for guiding the course of game development, the intended result of which is the creation of a 'good game'.
Where 'game' is defined IN THIS CASE as a piece of interactive digital media, which has rules and objectives, whether explicit or implied, and which seeks to express an idea, theme, or narrative. This definition would include Mario, Shadow of the Colossus, and the single-player campaign of Halo 3. It would exclude Pong, Second Life, and the multiplayer version of Halo 3.
(It would stammer and throw its hands up in defeat when presented with Minecraft.)
Where 'rules' refers to mechanisms which limit and direct player actions.
Where 'objectives' refers to a point or purpose the player's actions seek to effect upon the game world, or which the game world seeks to effect upon the player, whether explicitly stated or implied through the assertion of rules.
Where 'good' is defined as achieving optimal expression, through perfect unification of all gameplay, story, and artistic elements.
Where 'gameplay' is defined as the mechanistic regulation of the player's input, actions, and interaction with and within the game world.
Where 'story' is defined as the narrative arc of a piece of digital interactive fiction and/or the emotional arc which is imposed upon the player.
Where 'art' is defined as encompassing all visual and aural elements which create the atmosphere and aesthetic of a piece of digital interactive media.
"The Developer Manifesto"
1 All story elements should also be gameplay elements.
Everything which transpires in a game's narrative should involve and enhance player interaction.
No piece of story which cannot be conveyed in the form of engaging gameplay should be allowed to exist.
2 All gameplay elements should also be story elements.
All actions which the player takes or is capable of taking should be accounted for, justified, or reinforced by a game's narrative.
No action or consequence which does not support or cannot be justified by a game's narrative should be allowed to exist.
3 All story elements should also be art elements.
Everything which transpires in a game's narrative should be reinforced by appropriate visual or aural elements.
No piece of story which cannot be conveyed in appropriate and optimal aesthetic form should be allowed to exist.
4 All art elements should also be story elements.
The overall aesthetic style and atmosphere of a game should reinforce narrative elements.
No artistic element which impairs the expression of narrative or theme should be allowed to exist.
5 All art elements should also be gameplay elements.
Everything in the player's immediate environment should involve and enhance player interaction.
Nothing which does not directly or indirectly affect the player, or which cannot be affected by the player, should be allowed to exist within the game world.
6 All gameplay elements should also be art elements.
All actions which the player takes should be reinforced by appropriate visual or aural elements.
No action which cannot be supported by artistic elements should be allowed to exist.
7 Player input mechanisms should be intuitive and accessible without prior knowledge, skillsets, or external media.
8 Everything which transpires in the game world should affect the player, occur as a result of the player's actions, or both.
9 Every potential player action should create a corresponding consequence.
10 All gameplay, narrative, and artistic elements should be as interactive or player-engaging as possible.
These guidelines are intended to highlight positive aspects of game design which all games should, ideally, strive towards. Failure to meet these guidelines does not result in a 'bad game', and I am not implying [your favorite game] is a bad game because it does not meet one or most of these guidelines.
To put it another way, no one is saying Shadow of the Colossus is instantly a bad game because it is relatively inaccessible to newcomers -- only that it would be a better game if it were more accessible.
I do believe, however, that the 'better' and more 'important' a game is historically considered to be, the more of these guidelines it probably meets -- or the stronger and more uniquely it meets specific points. Likewise, I believe that games generally considered to be 'bad' can be autopsied and found as failing to meet most of these guidelines, or violating specific points particularly hard.
This is a living document.
(PLAYER 1 HAS SPOKEN >:O !!!)