WorstQuest: The Quest for the Worst Game

Nobody sets out to make a game with the goal of creating the worst game they have ever made. Or do they? This past week, some 35 developers attempted to do just that, spurred on by the 25th Mini-Ludum Dare competition, “The Worst Game I Have Ever Made”.

The competition, hosted by the elusive MrDude, broke the classic competition mold and asked participants to strive for the one thing they would never consciously desire to make. But what is “bad”? If one succeeds in creating a bad game on purpose, does the game become good? If a game achieves “worst game” status, doesn’t that make it good automatically? Would the 2nd-place Worst Game be promoted to first place, thus eventually emptying the “Worst  Games” set?

We could run in philosophical circles – but what about practicality? Can we analyze the entries (in, say, a blog post), and use the results to better our game-making skills in the future? Can we help identify what makes a bad game so bad?

Non-games or games that are meta-bad

It’s hard to call these “games” at all, and thus hard to learn from them. Anything I add at this point would probably deteriorate into a “what is a game” discussion, so we’ll just leave it as-is.


Glitchy and buggy games

Of the glitchy games, the most pronounced was probably the nearly-unplayable “BOBER<S QUEST”, in which the simple task of moving left or right becomes a tiring chore.

More importantly is “Upside Down”. Besides being (as the title suggests) an upside-down and backwards platformer, the glitches here are so woven into the fabric that some puzzles relied on glitches in order to be beaten. This kind of broken game-world opens new venues of exploration. I tired of this game rather quickly, but the takeaway here is that the rules don’t have to be constrained to higher-level concepts, but can blur into technical limitations as well.


Games with viable concepts that were seemingly thrown together

To these developers, “bad” meant “unrealized potential”. The core gameplay was (supposedly) good, but the game was tacked together hastily or unskillfully (on purpose or not, obviously). Are these bad games? Could they be considered prototypes, or proof-of-concept material?


Games that insult the player’s intelligence

Some developers interpreted “worst” on a higher level. My favorite was “Hero Test”, which leads the player through a series of unbeatable challenges, served with insults.


Boring/repetitive games

The worst kind of worst. Making a boring game is easy. A developer is nearly guaranteed to succeed in making a game repetitive. Any takeaway that I could offer is: don’t do it.

For example:

Games that defy categorization!

Potato, potato: potato. Potato potatoing potato, potato. Potatoes, potatoed potato.

For potato:

Final thoughts

I am mostly interested in how these games differ from a game that was not meant to be bad, yet came out that way. The most famous was E.T. the Extraterrestrial, but there are many, many others. Further research into previously-made bad games will undoubtedly improve the way we build new ones!

On a related note, this competition taught me that letting go of our ideals can lead to many new concepts and directions. Also, it’s easier to finish something if it is meant to be bad! And finishing things is the way to salvation.

You can check out the other entries in the competition, as well.

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by zdanielz
    on March 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Great post man.

    Another bad game you didn’t mention:


  2. Written by wolfgang
    on March 21, 2011 at 9:12 am

    I think it is more like, something is easier to finish if it is not meant to be good (as opposed to not meant to be bad). I am reminded of a story I once heard about a pottery class. The teacher divided the class into two groups. The first group was told they will be graded on quality, the second on quantity. That is, the more pots the second group produced, the better the grade. The first group only got good grades if their pots were really good. In the end it turned out that the second group made the most beautiful pots because they simply made a lot of them and got a lot of practice, while the first group got hung up on making one perfect pot, not practicing the pottering, and therefore never attaining any quality.
    *this comment part of my new series: How can I make comments longer than blog posts*

Subscribe to comments via RSS