From flop to FTW in six easy steps

Did your latest game flunk commercially despite being an overwhelming artistic achievement? Has your labor of love been swiftly relegated to cult classic status? Or, God forbid, has your game been so critically lauded but publically ignored that invoking its very name stirs a select few into a crass counter-culture frenzy?

It’s okay. We’ve all been there, and we’re here for you — and, fortunately enough, so is Pierre-Alexandre Garneau, who today laid down six fundamental rules of thumb over at Gamasutra to keep your game out of the bargain bin. They’re spooky in that blisteringly accurate sort of way, covering everything from market familiarity to graphics, gameplay, and multiplayer.

Garneau follows through with detailed descriptions as to how these questions are to be applied to your sparkling new would-be-blockbuster. As an example, Garneau applies his six questions to two excellent titles — Grand Theft Auto III and Psychonauts — and explains the ways in which the former enjoyed vast commercial success, a league of imitators, several sequels and a mountain of cash, while the latter was dunked in the toilet.

It’s a new world, baby. Though developers and publishers have been sorting out the nuts and bolts of getting the most buck out of their bang for years, it seems only recently that truly creative titles have been squashed in favor of whatever pappy crap licensed game EA decides to grind out in a given week. So read up and get familiar with The Rules, kids, because Garneau’s not the only one thinking about this sort of stuff — it’s a glimpse into the mentality that is likely to be the guiding light for publishers in the years to come.

Aaron Linde