TSM Episode 386: Making a Great Game

Chrono Trigger, along with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, stands triumphant at the very peak of game design.
The Greatest.

Download: Released 2016.07.25

In this special round-table discussion, panelists Adeki, SiliconNooB, and Lusipurr (along with special guest Imitanis) discuss what it takes to make a truly great video game, and what video games best fulfil the potential of the medium.


  1. I thought this was a good panel. But no one else seems to have anything to say! :x

  2. It was a good example, and I roundly agree with the ideas presented, especially the estimation of Chrono Trigger as a perfect game; i.e., has no faults, every element works extremely well together, and most of all it has such great balance. What struck me when I first played it again after some years, besides its wonderful presentation, is that you progress through the game so smoothly and it makes the game so enjoyable to play. Now, Final Fantasy VII has elements which may make it some people’s personal favorite, because it reaches further in for its story and its characters are more fleshed out for example, but not all elements work together as well as CT does. Its an absolute gold standard in JRPGs and games in general. Even if you may like other games more, you can always point to it and say that has what makes a great game.

    I’m looking forward to the anime panel next week. I don’t have as much anime experience as others do, although I do have my own tastes, and I would like to hear those opinions from you guys.

  3. Great podcast! I finally had a chance to listen, and I’m really looking forward to the anime discussion next. The pace of the podcast was far more swift than I would have expected, given the subject matter, as it was over by the 45-min mark. More exposition would be lovely, but I know time is at a premium!

    I agree with Dancing Matt: Chrono Trigger is the gold standard JRPG, and one of the finest games every made. It looks and sounds beautiful, has a great battle system, and there is a charm and real heart to the story that is very engaging. I want to know what happens next as I travel with these characters through time.

    I dislike that technological advances have overshadowed the basic principles that made gaming great in the SNES era. Early 3D efforts were capitalizing on the new tech, which was a novelty then. Now we have VR to further distract us from what matters. If a game wasn’t lovingly constructed with real depth and careful attention to detail, and with characters and story that are interesting to follow through the game, then it was a waste of time. Great books, movies, and (of course) music will haunt you long after it is over…

    Powerful material can make you think, and even change the way you think. Modern games for the most part are a time-sink, and as nourishing as candy. They might be glossy and sweet, but they offer no lasting effect – other than tooth decay.

  4. A very interesting topic, and one I’ve pondered myself for a long while. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to choose one game that tops the rest, since so many genres offer different things to the player.

    I’m glad to see Castlevania: Symphony of the Night get a mention here, particularly since I see many harp on the game’s silly dialogue and little else. The game has fantastic level design, an extraordinary soundtrack, and even though the dialogue can be laughable, it didn’t take anything away from the game. Although I’m sure we all played the PlayStation version of this gem many times, I would encourage people to also try out the Saturn version of the game as well, which also added the characters of Richter and Maria from the previous game “Rondo of Blood”. It’s a fun experience going through the game with two characters that play differently than Alucard, especially if you happen to like the classic NES and SNES Castlevania games. I believe the Saturn version also has some extra areas exclusive to that version as well.

    A quick aside on Sebastian’s point about modern games: I think that part of this can be accredited as well to the way game designers look at game design nowadays. The design present in games from the 8-bit, 16-bit, and some 32-bit and 64-bit eras could in fact be likened to that of architecture, in which a fine architect takes time with the tools available at his disposal to craft something beautiful and efficient. Every detail has a purpose in the overall piece and because the tools are restricted to a certain extent, nothing is wasted and limits are minded with sophistication. In the end you are left with a polished piece that can be considered art.

    Nowadays, the technology allows for fewer limits, but also encourages laziness with heavy, pre-made engines and flashy tech. Developers don’t mind the details because they 1) don’t care about them or 2) lack the ability to polish the details correctly. In the end you are left with something that looks pretty but is structurally broken. The design falls apart and with it, the entire game.

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