The #1 ingredient of fun games

Imagine you’re meeting a friend at a coffee shop.

You haven’t seen them in a while and you have 2 hours to catch up.

You get a table, sit by the window and start chatting.

But very quickly… something is starting to get on your nerves.

They’re constantly looking at their phone. Scrolling down their Instagram feed. Answering random messages.

You keep talking, but you know they aren’t really paying attention.

How would you feel at the end of these 2 hours?

Probably pretty annoyed, upset and unsatisfied about the whole thing.

Now, imagine you only have 15 minutes to catch up before they have to leave.

But this time, you get their undivided focus and attention.

You get to exchange a few stories about things that happened to you since you last saw each other.

You don’t see the time pass until they have to go. You still have a lot to share.

You agree to hang out later and part ways.

How would you feel after THAT interaction?

My guess is: probably a whole lot better.

It shows that we’d rather have a short, intense and fun experience than a long and mediocre one.

How can you recreate that feeling in your games?

By polishing the hell out of a few features instead of stuffing them with a massive amount of average ones.

I truly think polish is the number #1 thing that makes a game fun.

Nuclear Throne is not really doing anything very innovative.

There’s no super clever mechanic, no deep story and no amazing graphics.

But there’s one thing that the game is doing well: making killing things feel good.

And it’s doing it exceptionally well. Take that away and you lose 80% of what makes it fun.

I implemented a lot of the same techniques in my game Lost Potato

…and I’m showing you exactly how I did it in this week’s video: How To Make Attacks Feel Good (Juice Tutorial)