Truly Unique Games

3rd September 2006


Everything mass-produce is simply a replica. Just a copy, an almost perfect copy of a prototype. It does its job and we forget it. What makes something that is hand-made different? The fact that each one is slightly different. That’s the basis of the world of art. A painting, sculpture, concerts and plays are unique things, there’s only one

If it’s a performance then it will be different from the previous one. Sure, people can copy paintings and make prints of them etc but there’s only one original. I suppose the same is true of some mass-produced items. An original 1970’s chair is more expensive than a 2006 copy. The newer chair maybe better quality and cheaper but it’s still only a copy.

The Digital Age

The problem with the digital age is that every copy of a game, film, music etc is perfect. That’s one of the reason I spend too much time, effort and money on buying original games. The box, manual and CD are the only thing I am interested in. The game is worth very little, especially since you can probably buy a budget priced version or even find a warez site to download it from. The boxes, manuals and CDs are limited and therefore valuable.

Follow the Thoughts

I want to present a few ideas using the points above. Please put aside any technical questions for now because the point is to explore general concepts not evaluate solid proposals.

Play Once Games

Sometimes the best experiences are the ones you know can NEVER be repeated for example musical concerts or plays. Each performance is similar BUT unique. Now imagine a game that you could only play once. That’s right; once you have finished it you can’t reply it again. In fact once you have finished a level you can’t go back. There’s only one save point and that is the current one.

What’s the point? Well, perhaps we play the same game too much. How would you approach this particular game knowing that it is a once-only deal? Would you revel in the environments? Savour each moment rather than rushing through blindly.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that every game should be like this but I think a small independent game that is looking to explore they way players play games could produce something like this.

Limited Edition Games

Let’s take a different approach this time. Image a developer that created a game. This game did not come with an editor meaning no new levels could be created. The developer made 1001 changes and released each change as a new game. The changes could be a small combination of storyline, characters, voice actors, spoken lines, locations, weapons, items and endings. Each “game” would be different from the other 1000 games.

If you bought one of these games it would come with a numbered box and CD/DVD. You would know that your game was slightly different from everybody else’s.

Again; what’s the point? The idea here is to produce something that is unique and worth keeping. You would have something nobody would have. Of course copying will happen but some kind of Steam authentification system could be produced.

Perhaps this could be coupled with the play once idea to increase the value. Just as some bottles of wine are incredibly expensive partly because they have never been opened.


As always I’m interested to hearing your thoughts and comments, so get posting. By the way, I’m sorry for the image of the vase but I couldn’t find anything that symbolised uniqueness!


  1. Ade

    it’s hard to make a unique cd with a game.. people would still come up with a burner/ripper, as for the authentication – cracks
    sry for being negative on this one

  2. it’s hard to make a unique cd with a game.. people would still come up with a burner/ripper, as for the authentication – cracks

    Doesn’t mean we should stop trying though. Perhaps on a small scale it would be easier. know mathmatical codes, just a few impossible to guess phrases.

    Of course you are right they would be craked but perhaps the peopel owning the game wouldn’t allow anybody else to copy the CD etc.

  3. Ade

    yup. we’re getting into the whole pirating thing here. which is still a major and unsolved problem in many countries (especially mine) because the people you are talking about are ..few
    but that’s another story 😛

  4. This is Splatzone

    This is a very interesting idea. I like the ideaw of a game you can only play once.

    I have another idea, but I think it would be almost impossible to execute without some pretty amazing algorithms 😀

    How about, a FPS that is different every time you play it? By this, I don’t mean it is dynamically generated on the spot, I mean it downloads resources from everywhere, like a huge database.

    Then it slots together levels from the jigsaw pieces.

    They are designed to interconnect, and would offer a different experience every time.

    Or.. another idea:

    A dynamic game. Depending on the time, weather, day of the year etc you play it, it is different.

    Play it in summer and the sun streams, NPC’s comment on that.

    Certain levels may only be available at certain times.

    The time would be judged by pinging a central server, sending the GPS data and getting the correct time zone info back etc.

    Woah I’ve written more than enough.

    In conclusion, I think it’s a really interesting idea that should be explored.

    Also, before I finish: How about some completely new genres?

    Heres one I’ve been thinking of for a while: a life simulator.

    It would take advantage of the huge online Phillipbase (I’m coining that) and create dynamic environments, characters etc which other people have created.

    The thing is, you’ll never know what your going to get.

    A complete 3d life simulator would only be possible if it latched onto the unstoppable force of the developer community, and took the
    assets from there.

    Sure it’d be abused – I hate to think some of the stuff you’d get, but I heard Maxis (Sims creators) are working on something similar to this.

    Not sure though.

    It involves linking all their games together some-how.

    Anyway, nice article!

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