Top 10 Most Influential Video Game Mechanics

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Top 10 Most Influential Video Game Mechanics

VOICE OVER: Dan Paradis
Script written by Raphael Bennett

These are the things everyone else copied. Join http://www.WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Most Influential Video Game Mechanics.

The mechanics we'll be looking for today are ones that created a genre unto themselves, or changed a play-style forever. We are not looking at the specific “rules” that make up a game. With this in mind, we won't be discussing save points, brand new ideas like the Nemesis system which haven't had a chance to be adopted by other games, or the ability to control camera angles in 3D environments. With all of that out of the way, let's dive into our list.

Special Thanks to our users "Chesterstat" "Rhyan Vannice" "nosidezero" & "raphbennett" for suggesting this topic on our Interactive Suggestion tool at http://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest
Transcript
Script written by Raphael Bennett

Top 10 Most Influential Gameplay Mechanics


These are the things everyone else copied. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, where today we’ll be counting the Top 10 Most Influential Gameplay Mechanics.

The mechanics we’ll be looking for today are ones that created a genre unto themselves, or changed a play-style forever. We are not looking at the specific “rules” that make up a game. With this in mind, we won’t be discussing save points, brand new ideas like the Nemesis system which haven’t had a chance to be adopted by other games, or the ability to control camera angles in 3D environments. With all of that out of the way, let’s dive into our list.

#10: Retrieving Corpse

Designing for failure is tough. Too many checkpoints will make your adventures feel safe, but if the punishment for dying is too severe frustration can set in. In Diablo 2 Blizzard introduced the idea that dying isn’t the end. Instead, when your hero falls in battle, their body lies in place waiting for you to return. If you made it back to your corpse unscathed, you can pick up where you left off -- all your loot in tow. For a modern example, look no further than Dark Souls’ infamous souls.

#9: Morality System

In 2015 branching narratives are a dime a dozen, but it’s taken video games a long time to get there. When the original Fable debuted it took the binary decision making of vintage role-playing games, and let your behaviour in-game shape your appearance as well as the world around you. This established what we consider the morality system to be today, and is the foundation of games like TellTale’s The Walking Dead. However you know it: karma, paragon/renegade, or plain old good versus evil, the morality system has influenced a lot of major franchises.

#8: Climbing (Parkour)

As long as games have been around, platforms have existed. Things to bounce off, spaces to land on. But with 3D games, ground needs to be held up, a building needs to have walls. And *these* weren’t factored into gameplay until the early 2000s when Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time debuted its wall running mechanic. This idea of using every side of a structure truly found its footing [Ba Dum Tsst] with Assassin’s Creed, whose parkour gameplay animated Altair using every crack, crevice, and protruding surface of the city’s many walls.

#7: Wait x Number of Hours or Pay Real Money

Say what you will about microtransactions, and aggressive mobile notifications, but there’s no denying that the idea of speeding up gameplay with real money has profoundly impacted the video game industry. Games like FarmVille and Simpsons Tapped Out! prove that there’s a demand for short form gaming on the go. These titles have been breakout hits, proving that the success of the controversial notion of swapping hard earned cash for sped up gameplay certainly isn’t going anywhere. Sometimes you just don’t feel like waiting for your Tiny Tower to get built.

#6: Quicktime Events

Another one of gaming’s feverishly debated mechanics. The first mainstream game to make use of this was technically Dragon’s Lair, although most people credit Shenmue with popularizing it. These button prompts that show up when you least suspect them —usually during cinematics— ask for quick reflexes and typically exist completely separate from the basic flow of play. God of War improved the mechanic by approximating Kratos’ action with the highlighted button, this paved the way for more scripted video games like Heavy Rain to use quicktime events as a central element of their stories. Say what you want about QTEs, they’re still the best way to pay your respects.

#5: Aiming Down the Sights

There was a time when the only truly accurate firearm in a first person shooter was the sniper. Most popular shooters, including the likes of Half-Life, didn’t expect players to zoom in before blasting off a few rounds. Now, thanks to games like Vietcong and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, almost every modern fps has players aim down the sights for increased accuracy. The dramatic shift in shooting mechanics has brought a whole new meaning to the idea of a headshot.

#4: Cover Mechanics

Like aiming down the sights, cover mechanics are so prolific it’s hard to imagine 3rd-person action without them. Hiding behind a wall to avoid gunfire may seem like second nature today, but it wasn’t until WinBack: Covert Ops in 1999 that the feature first showed up in a shooter. After the breakout success of Gears of War, whose core shooting is built around hiding behind cover, themechanic became so popular that it even showed up in series like Grand Theft Auto for the better, and Resident Evil for the … not so better.

#3: Z-targeting (lock-on)

With Ocarina of Time in 1998, Nintendo had designed the most ambitious game world to-date, but they had a problem — how does the player keep what they need to see in focus. The solution was, of course, Z-targeting, a mechanic that let players zero in on one object at a time. This lock-on maneuver is such an effective means of managing situational awareness, that games from a wide variety of genres make use of it. Everything from RPGs like Kingdom Hearts to action games like Bayonetta.

#2: Regenerating Health

The idea of Regenerating Health came into popularity along with the original Halo’s regenerating shield and it has completely revamped modern shooter design. Being able to take risks without worrying about keeping health up puts players in charge of their play-style. Regenerating Health keep you in the moment, it reminds you that you could die at any second, but still have a chance for a comeback. But the brilliance of Regenerating Health is two-fold, it also impacts multiplayer design by giving revived team-mates a window to bring themselves to safety.

Before we name our number one, how about taking a look at some honourable mentions.

Time of Day Based on Internal Clock
Perma-Death
Day and Night System
Bullet Time
Duel Weilding

#1: Jumping onto an Enemy’s Head

It seems so simple now. Landing on top of an enemy’s head squishes them. Super Mario’s world famous technique proved that a game mechanic should always have multiple uses. If jumping from platform to platform is how you keep yourself alive, why not have it be your primary means of defense too? The iconic mechanic has been referenced in achievements, spoofed in film, and most of all changed the way we think about gameplay forever. It is by far the most influential gameplay mechanic of all time.

What are you favourite gameplay mechanics? Did we miss one? Let us know if you agree with our list. Make sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com for more great Top 10s published daily.
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