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Internal cohesion

Most games have a setting in which the gameplay takes place. It helps the player immerse in the game and if executed right, it explains and supports the gameplay mechanics. Take Sonic for example. The world of Sonic is filled with brightly colored robotic enemies that pop open if you destroy them, only to reveal a cute little animal that was trapped inside, encouraging you to do it again. The world itself is comprised of pitfalls, loopings and bounce pads that launch you into the air. None of these elements really make sense by themselves but take into account that the player is constantly running, jumping, dashing and rolling and the world starts to make sense. The setting is comprised of various illogical elements, but they work very well together and they are internally consistent.

Games like Sonic, Mario and Megaman create their own worlds that make sense internally. They make up whatever elements they need and integrate them into the worlds logic. Games that use more conventional settings often run into problems when trying to explain some gameplay elements in their setting. Just think about platformer games that have more realistic super-mario-world-2characters and settings yet still have endless amounts of highly impractical structures to scale and tons of conveniently placed handholds scattered around the “natural” environment. In a game like Megaman this would not be a problem because almost every element in the game only makes sense within the bounds of the game. In a more realistic setting, picking up some bandages to heal yourself time and time again, stops making sense really fast and so do double jumping, surviving long falls, carrying tons of weapons and ammo, etc.

Creating the right setting can take a lot of time and one should not underestimate this. A well designed setting can make an average game feel good, just as a flawed setting can utterly spoil the players experience. A setting doesn’t have to work by itself, just look at Super Mario. The important thing is that it works well in tandem with the gameplay.

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