To some players, arcade-style action games are nothing more than an opportunity to mash the A-button. But to hardcore gamers, the same game can be a canvas for skill and mastery. But just how do great games appeal to both players? In a word, depth.
Depth, when performed correctly, allows players to enjoy the game without hours of practice. Sure, they might make mistakes, slip up now and again, and look clumsly while playing, but they have been provide with a chance to beat the game without fine-tuning their skills to any large extent. Games like Super Smash Bros. Melee (featured above) pull this off seamlessly.
But, even more challenging, is allowing hardcore players to play the same game, and feel like they’ve enhanced the experience by practicing. An obvious example of this is the combo system. Sure, you might figure out how to beat an enemy with only one button, but pulling off a well-timed combo might just win you the high-score.
Once hardcore players discover ways to maximize their efficiency, they are enstilled with an amazing feeling of accomplishment, as if they are “cheating the system”. Ever double-tapped the ‘Switch Weapon’ button to cancel the reload animation, or grappled the ground to cancel fall damage? Then you’ve experienced this. These developers did not make a mistake, they’ve simply provided a vehicle for dedicated players to strengthen their performance.
Surely, upcoming games will take a page from truly great titles that thrive by adding depth to their systems and mechanics. Combos, skill trees, customization, etc., will all become commonplace as the industry realizes their benefits, and the gaming community will grow as developers acknowledge this need for accessibility.