Those Small Game Details Pt. 3

Thank you for joining me for Part 3~!  If you missed Part 1 and Part 2, please be sure to check those out.  In those, I analyzed Dragon Age: Origins and The Sims 3 and discussed how their small details gave a richer and fuller gaming experience.


For the last game, I would to take a brief look at a game I talked about recently, Pokémon Sun/Moon.

Now my grievances about catching Pokémon aside, there is a small change in the game’s mechanics that did impress me.  Unlike past games in the series where one had to painstakingly go into the bag to select a Pokéball to throw, this game gives you a button shortcut.  This small change in itself is fantastic, since it streamlines the process of catching (in theory).  However, an even smaller detail is that the icon on this button is always the last Pokéball type you threw.  Namely, if you threw a regular Pokéball it will show that, if you threw a Great Ball it will show that, etc..  While it is a subtle detail, it is one I can appreciate.  For example, if you failed to catch a Pokémon with the first ball, you now have a subtle reminder about what you last threw.  This subtle reminder allows you to think strategically about which ball should be the next choice to throw.  Though the smallest of the details I will bring up, it does make a difference in helping the player keep their head in the game.  The interface reflects the players’ choices well, so in turn the players are never un-immersed from the game trying to remember what they were doing.  The detail feeds crucial information, while virtually being unnoticeable (which is rather genius).  In the end, it just helps one embrace the moment in full since it never breaks the feeling of being a Pokémon trainer in the game.

Through my examples from all three posts, I hope I’ve demonstrated at least one thing: small details can make a big difference.  Even if it’s subtle, their presence helps immerse players in the world, whether it’s the simulation experience of The Sims or the epic story world of Dragon Age.  They create nuances to make playthroughs individualistic and more worthwhile to complete.  Even subtle details, like the one mentioned in Pokémon Sun/Moon, help players stay within the game, making it so momentary distractions do not detract from jumping right back into playing.  Overall, these small choices enhance a players feelings that their choices are important, and that they are an active participator in a game.  This is an ideal feeling to achieve, since it just all around increases the entertainment and interactivity value.

As an amateur game developer, I take this analysis to heart.  I feel small details can make a huge difference when added, whether it’s via reflecting choices or simply giving an environment a truly realistic feel.  I recognize its replay value as well, since numerous gamers will consider how replay-able a game is before purchasing it.  It’s definitely something I love to see developers consider.  On the whole most people will never notice, but it will affect their experience of the product none-the-less.


So, next time you’re playing a game, be on the lookout for the small details, because you may be surprised at what you find and what changes how you perceive the game.


Pokémon is © to GAME FREAK, The Pokémon Company, Nintendo, and all other affiliated parties.

Images: Screenshot- From the pre-release marketing.