#1 Posted by Nottle (1915 posts) -

I was watching an old gamespot retrospective of the Xbox and Carrie Gouskos said that she didn't like Halo 2 because it didn't have "heart."Besides the ending I didn't really see where she was coming from. Halo 2 is as well made as most other games, it's fun, for many people it was the reason you hade Xbox live. I'm sure some talented people worked on it.

This made me wonder what exactly does that mean? What games qualify as having a "heart?" Which games don't have heart? What attributes does a game require to have a heart? Does it have to do with the people that made the game? The player? Keyblades?

For me the first things that come to mind are the games I really love, Earthbound and Mother 3, Smash Bros. Red Dead Redemption, God Hand, MGS2, Persona 4, Doom. Each pay homage in some form or another to film or other games, or they have characters that I can get behind

But then I think about Journey and Flower. Flower is a game I'm sure someone would bring up, but I played the demo and was either frustrated or bored the whole time. Journey however is one of my favorite games I've played this year. Both have similar arcs and are about being in an environment and "feeling something" but to me Flower is lifeless and Journey is full of wonderment and wimsy. To me Journey has heart, I get a sense of fulfillment from it that I don't get from Flower.

So is that what heart is, a sense of fulfillment from the player? I'm interested in what you all have to say because it is something that is brought up a lot now. Usually towards Capcom, EA, or Activision.

#2 Posted by Video_Game_King (36272 posts) -

That it has personality; that a lot of thought and care were put into it, and dear god, does it show.

#3 Posted by crusader8463 (14429 posts) -

It's hard to quantify really. It's just this feeling you get when you play the game and you can see the people who made it really cared about the product and everything in it wasn't just part of some focus test.

#4 Edited by qawsed (145 posts) -

When uncompromising developers put a part of themselves in the game. Games that reflect their makers wants and needs instead of catering to what developers imagine consumers want, while still showing great respect to consumers. Games that are an expression of creative people instead of a business obligation.

#5 Posted by Icemael (6364 posts) -

You say a game has "heart" when you want to communicate that it has a positive quality (or combination of qualities) but don't quite have the critical ability to discern exactly what it is. It's pretty much the same thing as "je ne sais quoi".

#6 Posted by Ubersmake (754 posts) -

I like to think that it's that state where the developers put everything they wanted to into a game. That there was nothing held back. And this shows in a game, regardless of how flawed or flawless the game ends up in execution.

#7 Posted by Draxyle (1898 posts) -

"Heart" and "Soul" are funny descriptions for things. A lot of people will say they're meaningless in this context, but as an artist I can understand the sentiment behind those phrases.

My own take on it is that a game with "heart" or "soul" is a game "made for all the right reasons". Basically, they weren't produced because of clinical or mathematical reasons. There was a clear drive, a creative force, and a desire to reach other people on meaningful levels through their works. It's quite easy to tell which games have it and which games don't.

#8 Edited by LaserLambert (172 posts) -

Heart implies that you think that people cared about the end result when making it, and not all of them worked just to collect a paycheck.

It doesn't even have to be a good game, but it can still have heart.

#9 Posted by TobbRobb (4850 posts) -

I wanna say this

@qawsed said:

When uncompromising developers put a part of themselves in the game. Games that reflect their makers wants and needs instead of catering to what developers imagine consumers want, while still showing great respect to consumers. Games that are an expression of creative people instead of a business obligation.

But I actually think this

@Icemael said:

You say a game has "heart" when you want to communicate that it has a positive quality (or combination of qualities) but don't quite have the critical ability to discern exactly what it is. It's pretty much the same thing as "je ne sais quoi".
#10 Posted by Dany (7887 posts) -

You have heart kid, I'll give you that.

#11 Posted by Yummylee (22577 posts) -

Deadly Premonition had heart.

#12 Posted by MooseyMcMan (11415 posts) -

@Abyssfull said:

Deadly Premonition had heart.

It also had the best soundtrack ever.

#13 Posted by Yummylee (22577 posts) -

@MooseyMcMan: I'm much more partial to:

And can't bring up the soundtrack without posting:

Uh...uh-uh-uh.

#14 Posted by LordXavierBritish (6320 posts) -

Big anime tits.

#15 Posted by MooseyMcMan (11415 posts) -

@Abyssfull: Well, I see we've both forgotten another gem.

And what must be the best dart playing music in the world:

#16 Posted by Andorski (5368 posts) -

Unabashed attempt at executing on it's main concepts and themes.

#17 Posted by Nottle (1915 posts) -

@Video_Game_King: Than a game like Halo 2 would qualify right? It has a lot of easter eggs, it explores that universe and the grunts don't talk funny for nothing.

@Ubersmake said:

I like to think that it's that state where the developers put everything they wanted to into a game. That there was nothing held back. And this shows in a game, regardless of how flawed or flawless the game ends up in execution.

But sometimes games don't have the time to put everything in or sometimes it isn't smart to put everything in. Resident Evil 2 was completely scrapped and remade into the Resident Evil 2 that exists today. Metal Gear Solid 2 had several edits made because of 9/11 like Raiden cutting down the American flag to cover Solidus's body and the Statue of liberty being partially destroyed. But I'd still say that game was made with care and it's story is probably one of the most layered in games.

@qawsed said:

When uncompromising developers put a part of themselves in the game. Games that reflect their makers wants and needs instead of catering to what developers imagine consumers want, while still showing great respect to consumers. Games that are an expression of creative people instead of a business obligation.

In Mass Effect there is a lot of content blocked by DLC or that comes out later but I'm sure few would say Mass Effect 1 or 2 didn't have heart. A lot of stff around the game could be see as it being too much about business or unfinished.

Does anyone have more examples of heartlessness or a game that has heart?

#18 Posted by Vinny_Says (5721 posts) -

It's what you say about a shitty game (Deadly Premonition) when you can't come up with anything positive to say about it.

#19 Posted by Animasta (14730 posts) -

For me, Heart is usually used for cult hits, that may not be the best playing or looking games but it has something that draws you in regardless. Nier had heart, Alpha Protocol had heart, E.Y.E. had heart...

#20 Posted by eroticfishcake (7792 posts) -

Really interesting how you mention that since I think about this a LOT. The difference being that I've always referred to it as a game having "soul" to it. Though in retrospect, "heart" is probably a better word. Glad you brought it up though since I was afraid I might sound pretentious if I said if a game had "soul". But yeah as much as I love games very few of them are favourites of mine but even few them I consider to have "soul" to it. It's hard to describe or explain. A game can be mechanically great or poor but it can still have soul (or lack thereof). I've never played Deadly Premonition for example. Technically it's a bad game but there's definitely a lot of love behind those broken lines of code. Some of personal favourite "soul" games is Persona 4 thanks to it's colourful story and cast and rather appropriately, Dark Souls with it's unique world and mechanics. I could say a lot more about those titles though I'd have to write a thesis on both but yeah, I'm glad someone knows what I'm talking about. I hope.

#21 Posted by TentPole (1858 posts) -

@Icemael said:

You say a game has "heart" when you want to communicate that it has a positive quality (or combination of qualities) but don't quite have the critical ability to discern exactly what it is. It's pretty much the same thing as "je ne sais quoi".

Too cool for school.

#22 Posted by NTM (7549 posts) -

You got heart kid, you got heart.

#23 Posted by Tim_the_Corsair (3065 posts) -

mk1kanofatality.jpg

#24 Edited by ArbitraryWater (12131 posts) -

If I say a game has heart that usually means I'm being condescending towards it. It's a game that has a lot of good ideas but doesn't necessarily capitalize on them as well as it should. Arcanum, for example, is a game I would say has "heart". It means well with its incredibly open character development system and unique setting, but somehow falls apart once you realize that certain character builds are better than others and the story is just a generic "chosen one saves the world" plot.

Obviously, that's not what Carrie Guskos meant and it's probably not what you mean either. I'd probably attribute that particular statement towards Halo 2's lackluster single player. Say what you will about how it set the standard for online multiplayer on a console, the campaign is the weakest in the series and Halo 3 and Reach made clear and deliberate backsteps from many of the things they introduced in Halo 2.

#25 Posted by MordeaniisChaos (5730 posts) -

@Video_Game_King said:

That it has personality; that a lot of thought and care were put into it, and dear god, does it show.

And usually, it's not great.

Basically, it means the people meant good, they were passionate about their ideas, but struggled with something, usually execution. "Heart" is almost always applied to games that struggle to be excellent as a sum of their parts but can be respected and loved for a particular quality that was clearly crafted with effort and love.

#26 Posted by ZeForgotten (10397 posts) -

The Legend of Zelda games has many hearts. 

Online
#27 Posted by Nottle (1915 posts) -

@MordeaniisChaos said:

@Video_Game_King said:

That it has personality; that a lot of thought and care were put into it, and dear god, does it show.

And usually, it's not great.

Basically, it means the people meant good, they were passionate about their ideas, but struggled with something, usually execution. "Heart" is almost always applied to games that struggle to be excellent as a sum of their parts but can be respected and loved for a particular quality that was clearly crafted with effort and love.

@ArbitraryWater said:

If I say a game has heart that usually means I'm being condescending towards it. It's a game that has a lot of good ideas but doesn't necessarily capitalize on them as well as it should. Arcanum, for example, is a game I would say has "heart". It means well with its incredibly open character development system and unique setting, but somehow falls apart once you realize that certain character builds are better than others and the story is just a generic "chosen one saves the world" plot.

Obviously, that's not what Carrie Guskos meant and it's probably not what you mean either. I'd probably attribute that particular statement towards Halo 2's lackluster single player. Say what you will about how it set the standard for online multiplayer on a console, the campaign is the weakest in the series and Halo 3 and Reach made clear and deliberate backsteps from many of the things they introduced in Halo 2.

Yeah, what you guys are saying is basically the "A for effort" kind of thing, a game that is an underdog.

Where I would use "heart" for games that both succeed and fail. I see a game having heart if there something charming or human about a game. Doom is a great game, but I'd say it has a lot of heart because it was made by a bunch of guys that wanted to make something great, and playing Doom you could tell they really liked Danzig, Aliens and Evil Dead. I think Earthbound has a lot of heart because I think about how Itoi really likes the Beatles and how things don't die when you defeat them in battle they "return to the dust of the earth" or "become tame." It reminds me of a simpler time and how friendship, diversity and teamwork is important.

I think that is part of the reason I ask this question, I think that every game had people working on it that spent years making the game as a team or in the case of some smaller games a very tight team or even a single person working on something they are passionate about. Games may pass though many hands but people still had to work and breath life into any game that is fun or interesting.

#28 Edited by aceofspudz (935 posts) -

Heart is an ambiguous quality, and one that is open to interpretation. However I don't think (as was stated earlier) it is an imaginary quality reflective of a lack of critical experience.

I won't go so far as to say that it is a game that is made for 'the right reasons', because saying games made expressly to entertain or satisfy is the wrong reason doesn't ring true to me. It may be as simple a distinction as a game through which you experience something dear to the people who created it, which usually includes the game itself.

#29 Posted by Ihmishylje (413 posts) -

@Draxyle said:

"Heart" and "Soul" are funny descriptions for things. A lot of people will say they're meaningless in this context, but as an artist I can understand the sentiment behind those phrases.

My own take on it is that a game with "heart" or "soul" is a game "made for all the right reasons". Basically, they weren't produced because of clinical or mathematical reasons. There was a clear drive, a creative force, and a desire to reach other people on meaningful levels through their works. It's quite easy to tell which games have it and which games don't.

This.

#30 Posted by Twinsun (495 posts) -

I would say a game usually has heart when you can tell it was created to express a certain vision, feeling or idea and not just to be consumed as junkfood entertainment.

As to whether Halo 2 has heart, I can't really say, To me it seems to stand somewhere in the middle as you can tell that the people making it care about the fiction and characters but at the same time it's status as the first and foremost Xbox franchise can't help but influence the creative process. I mean, a new Halo game will be made whether or not anyone actually has anything new to express within that fiction or not, simply because it's a system seller for Microsoft.

#31 Posted by Morrow (1823 posts) -

@Nottle: I think everyone has a different perception of "to have heart".

To me it means that there are fleshed-out characters I can relate to, ones with depth. Games I consider to have heart are Eternal Sonata, Nier, Shadow of the Colossus, Mass Effect 2, Ocarina of Time or Terranigma.

#32 Posted by AlexanderSheen (5104 posts) -

@Abyssfull: @MooseyMcMan: You guys forgetting about that sick boss battle music:

#33 Posted by Ravenlight (8011 posts) -
#34 Posted by HerbieBug (4208 posts) -

Sincere design and execution on the part of that developer.  Minimally affected by attempts to pander to a specific audience for the sole purpose of increased revenue, minimally affected by focus group inspired changes designed to broaden the game's appeal.  
 
Designed with artistic integrity.  To give a relatively current example:  Dragon Age: Origins has heart.  Dragon Age 2 does not. 

#35 Edited by Sooty (8082 posts) -

It's the definition of the Yakuza series. I love that they still take the time to have you do tasks such as finding dog food for a little girl so she can get a dog to like her. While it's pretty mundane, I'm glad that series takes the time out of its main storyline to have you do stuff like that. There's a lot of great characters in the series and they build them up well.

It's a shame it isn't more popular, but I think that's what happens when you release a game that only has English subtitles. The voice acting is superb so I don't mind one bit.

#36 Posted by fox01313 (5089 posts) -

Agreed with others about Deadly Premonition, best to play it yourself but if not having access to that 360 game under $20, then watch the endurance run. I'd also put Fable2 up for this too.

#37 Posted by FreakAche (2955 posts) -
#38 Edited by SleepyDoughnut (1241 posts) -

@Icemael said:

You say a game has "heart" when you want to communicate that it has a positive quality (or combination of qualities) but don't quite have the critical ability to discern exactly what it is. It's pretty much the same thing as "je ne sais quoi".

Yeah this can be seen as a cop out answer, but it's also the correct one. I like to think that having heart is where you can tell the developers really put some time and craft into their work, but really the only way to judge "heart" is whether you liked a game and it connected with you or not. To me, Ocarina of Time has heart. Professor Layton has heart. Twilight Princess does not have heart.

#39 Posted by theManUnknown (187 posts) -

For me, having heart means the developers made a genuine effort to make a game that was distinct, interesting, and something that they themselves wanted to make and play. In my mind, a game without heart isn't ever created so much as it is manufactured.

#40 Posted by tourgen (4542 posts) -

Not mechanical, more than the sum of its parts, not just going thru the motions of its genre

Particular care and effort into some part of the artwork, gameplay, or design - even if ultimately it doesn't quite work out.

#41 Posted by IntoTheN1ght (62 posts) -

Halo always felt like a game made by robots, everything seemed calculated and the whole game looked very "cold", much Mass Effect looks "cold". Basically the art style is so uninspiring and everything looks like its a cheap 1970s sci fi show.

For all the drama, death and attempts at pulling your heart strings, games like Mass Effect still feel very phony, just the look of the characters and how everything looks lacks personality/heart/soul.

I am not some otaku japanphile whatever guy, but id say most western created games of today just look and feel so commercial. There is a massive difference between the monsters in Dragon Age 1 and 2 and then Demons Souls and Dark Souls. For Bioware it felt like they just hired some guys to draw, model and animate some orcs, dragons, goblins and thats what they did, nothing more and nothing less. Whereas in DS everything looks so unique and personalized, no game quite has the same looking monsters, its all weird and has an aura of "we gave a **** when we did this".

Its one of the reasons Silent Hill (classic series 1-3 by Team Silent) was so special, there was a obessive amount of detail in the world, and despite drawing inspiration from Jacobs Ladder and others it is its own thing. Dead Space is Aliens + The Thing, it has no identity of its own

#42 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5407 posts) -

@Icemael said:

You say a game has "heart" when you want to communicate that it has a positive quality (or combination of qualities) but don't quite have the critical ability to discern exactly what it is. It's pretty much the same thing as "je ne sais quoi".

Funny because you used the term heart to describe some games in a positive and negative way before.

#43 Posted by CountRockula (398 posts) -

The easiest way to decide whether a game has heart is to first determine whether it has moxie.

#44 Posted by pyromagnestir (4339 posts) -

Huh. My definition of what I thought it means when a game has heart seems to be a bit different then the ones I'm seeing here. I always figured it meant the game had something you could emotionally latch on to, and sincerely care about what happens to that something. So if I say a game has heart it means I was emotionally invested in something, and that that was intentional and successful.

#45 Posted by SethPhotopoulos (5407 posts) -

@IntoTheN1ght said:

Halo always felt like a game made by robots, everything seemed calculated and the whole game looked very "cold", much Mass Effect looks "cold". Basically the art style is so uninspiring and everything looks like its a cheap 1970s sci fi show.

For all the drama, death and attempts at pulling your heart strings, games like Mass Effect still feel very phony, just the look of the characters and how everything looks lacks personality/heart/soul.

I am not some otaku japanphile whatever guy, but id say most western created games of today just look and feel so commercial. There is a massive difference between the monsters in Dragon Age 1 and 2 and then Demons Souls and Dark Souls. For Bioware it felt like they just hired some guys to draw, model and animate some orcs, dragons, goblins and thats what they did, nothing more and nothing less. Whereas in DS everything looks so unique and personalized, no game quite has the same looking monsters, its all weird and has an aura of "we gave a **** when we did this".

Its one of the reasons Silent Hill (classic series 1-3 by Team Silent) was so special, there was a obessive amount of detail in the world, and despite drawing inspiration from Jacobs Ladder and others it is its own thing. Dead Space is Aliens + The Thing, it has no identity of its own

I would say heart is more than artstyle. I'd say Mass Effect has heart because it is trying so hard to do something different that most other games haven't tried before. They try to create characters that you can relate to and want to get to know, create a trilogy in which your choices carry over to each game and have weight, they tried to create a rich fiction to make the world feel real, many of the alien designs were genuinely really cool. It felt like alot of work and care went into making that series. Wether or not Mass Effect succeeds at those things is up to someone individually but for me it works for the most part.

I was into the sci-fi aesthetic, especially in ME2 and 3. For me the Soul's series looks so bland from a visual standpoint, everything had the same dull brown or black look and it wasn't visually interesting. But Soul's is doing something that a lot of other games aren't doing today which gives it its individuality.

#46 Posted by MrKlorox (11209 posts) -

It's what you say when it's lacking fire, wind, water, and earth.

#47 Edited by the_red_mage (146 posts) -

Go play Journey ... no really I'm not joking. Go and play it and you will understand.

EDIT: @MrKlorox: Is that the Captain Planet reference I've been waiting for my whole life? Thank you sir.

#48 Posted by huntad (1958 posts) -

She just didn't like the game and couldn't figure out why.

#49 Posted by Nottle (1915 posts) -

@the_red_mage said:

Go play Journey ... no really I'm not joking. Go and play it and you will understand.

EDIT: @MrKlorox: Is that the Captain Planet reference I've been waiting for my whole life? Thank you sir.

I mentioned Journey and yes. It is a game that has something to it. It is very artistic and it made me think. But is that the only thing that gives a game heart? Artwork, music and some neat ideas. Game play wise it is a somewhat shallow game? Can a game have heart if the gameplay is so finely tuned? Bayonetta is a game I played because the gameplay is so tight. Someone really wanted to make a mechanically satisfying action game, the rest of the game is pretty goofy. Is heart only there if the game is trying to make you feel a certain way?

#50 Posted by BabyChooChoo (4832 posts) -

@Andorski said:

Unabashed attempt at executing on it's main concepts and themes.

This.