This won't be long...
I just want to get out there what I like in my chosen medium of entertainment, namely video games. I'm no developer or programmer, and I've not played every classic dating back to the mesozoic era. I don't spend each and every day picking and choosing what title to play to completion. Since I have limited time on my hands, I've got to choose wisely.
|Just a tad more challenging...|
Most of the things I enjoy are golden standards in the industry. Proper progression is probably my biggest initial marker to help me decide if I'll keep playing. If at its core the gameplay is mindless action sequences that stagnate; where there are no challenges that progress to create a larger sense of achievement, I tend to lose interest quickly. Story isn't enough. I'm not waiting for the next cut scene as a reward, seeing the results of my direct input, and finding the path progressively more difficult is something I need. Otherwise I feel like I've wasted my time and haven't challenged myself.
|Just a little darker...|
Yes, I find a challenge entertaining, and relaxing if it's done right. Like a good workout at the gym can give you the sense of released tension, but for my mind. This leads me to my second flag for a game I'll enjoy, a well balanced beginners curve. If the tutorial is too long, or involved, or there are so many mechanics that the game doesn't explain how to do everything, I'll probably drop it. If I'm still discovering the way the game works 3 hours into the game, then there's something wrong. I'm not talking about a metroid-vania style power progression. I'm talking keeping vital controls and functions of a game secret, until I stumble on them by throwing my controller against the wall. At the same time, don't lead me to proverbial water each time I have to do ANYTHING. That's just as averting as unexplained meters or terms.
When I've found those two things, I'll look to the artistic style of the game. There is a certain look that I enjoy in a game. It's usually chibi outlandish looking characters, and preferably a dark theme. I like the feeling of hopelessness and dread, and overcoming it. That or ridiculous action with tons of other strangers I don't know. What I don't enjoy, and this is entirely subjective, is "realistic" looking art. Attempting to make something look as real as possible, or close to life as possible, just reminds me that I'm in the real world and just not there. Whereas a false looking world can make me zone out and suspend the reality around me. Odd I know, but that's just the freaky stuff I'm into.
|And that's perfect, we've arrived.|
And honestly, thinking about it, that's about all I need to make me a happy man. Follow the prescribed formula, throw in some mechanics of some kind, and a common sense approach to your game and I'll probably play it and enjoy it. Most of the games I enjoy are non-reality inducing, unconventional, and don't remind me of the world where I've got to go to work in the morning. GTA, I'm looking at you.