When teaching game development, my student's obsess about building realistic or complex art/models/animation. And spending wayyy to much time trying to get accurate collision detection between two 3D models [despite my best efforts]

However I would like them to spend more time thinking about developing the game mechanics, interaction and game play.

I'm looking for some games where the visuals are simple but have good game play.

Things I am thinking about are Cubes' vs Spheres or Impossible Game.

What are more examples of visually simple (preferably 3D) games to help inspire my students?

  • \$\begingroup\$ You could give your students the assets and collision implementation. If you still wanted to teach about collision, you could make it something like a math homework assignment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Derek E
    Jun 20, 2012 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ dereke, we do give some assets, but there 20 project groups, all woking on games of their own devising, so we don't have assets that cover every game being produced \$\endgroup\$
    – Ken
    Jun 20, 2012 at 19:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ "List" questions where every answer is equally valid aren't a good fit for the SE Q&A format. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tetrad
    Jun 21, 2012 at 12:50

4 Answers 4


Minecraft (doh!)


As a side note, most of the indie hits don't apply IMHO. Braid, Fez, Limbo et al. focus on visual appeal as one of the main selling points. Even if the graphics are not ment to be realistic or visualy complex, they take a major part in the development cycle, while f.e Minecraft values function over form.


The best game that comes to mind is


Thomas was alone^ : It's an amazing minimalist game that really shows that graphics don't matter and that gameplay is king.

I'm also working on my own minimalist game at the moment for the Xbox 360 for XBLA, and here's a list of other cool minimalist games.


  • ^Everyday the same dream is extremely minimalist and well done. 2d

  • Canabalt is somewhat minimalist. 2d / 2.5d perspective

  • Super Meat boy is somewhat minimalist. 2d

  • Grey - Flash Game on Kongregate 2d

  • One and one story - somewhat minimalist. 2d

  • The Floor is Jelly - very minimalist. 2d

  • Wonderputt - minimalist in some aspect. 2.5d

  • Monaco - 2.5dish

  • Frozen Synapse - 2.5dish

  • Fez - 2.5d - 3d world

  • Feist - 3d (use's Limbo-est aesthetics)

  • Limbo - 3d (styling / thematic visual style)

  • Audiotorium - 3d ish

  • Journey - 3d (minimalist in some aspect)

  • Audiosurf - 3d (minimalist in some aspect)

  • CubeMen - is a 3d Mac OS / PC shooter.

  • Edge (iPhone game) very minimalist. 3d - 2.5d

  • Antichamber Game (minimalist and confusing)

"The best advice I learned at the GDC 2012 Writing Better Games Narrative workshop is that students should focus on - this : "Game Play is king". -- Everything else will follow as long as gameplay is the primary focus."

Edit : * Sorry these are mostly 2d games.

  • Flotilla
  • Atom Zombie Smasher
  • Bit.Trip series
  • All old-school roguelikes, like Nethack, Angband, ADOM, and Dwarf Fortress of course.

Games with minimalist graphics and great game play:

  • Darwinia and Multiwinia
  • Frozen Synapse
  • A New Zero (http://www.crypticsea.com/anewzero.html)
  • Knytt (http://nifflas.ni2.se/?page=Knytt)
  • Avadon, Avernum, Geneforge

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