The Feelings of Lasting Legacy

When I start working on a game, one of the first things I decide is how will the game make the player feel. Different designers have different ways of driving and focusing the design of their games: some will use a short elevator pitch, some will use key pieces of art, some will let the mechanics dictate the rest. I prefer to use the way I want players to feel to anchor the design, and I flesh out the rest of the game around it.

Once you have defined that feel, you can run every single design decision by it. Every game feature should support those feelings in some way, if not, they’re a good candidate to cut. And if some contradict them directly, you can veto them right away and not go down that path any further. Continue reading

Luck In Games

The amount and type of luck involved in a game has a profound impact on the feel of that game. Some games have no luck whatsoever, and all the variation comes from what the opponent does (chess), some of them are all about luck with not much else (roulette), and most of them fall somewhere in between, creating a wide spectrum of possible experiences.

We don’t talk much about the role of luck in video games, probably because it’s hidden away under the black box of the computer simulation, but just like with board games, it can have have a large impact in the type of experience the video game provides.

Thinking about luck in these terms was crucial for the game I’m working on (still unannounced!). We made some crucial decisions thinking about how luck was part of the game and kind what kind of experience it created for the player. I’m hoping this post helps people with similar design challenges.

Continue reading

My Next Game

Stick 2No, this is not an announcement of my next game (I wish). Rather, it’s a brain dump of my struggle with the process. It seems that in the game development community we often share the process of making a game and how it did afterwards. But it’s rare having some insight into what goes on before the project gets started. Where do ideas come from? Why do we pick one and not another? These are semi-coherent notes about the things I’m struggling with right now. Continue reading

Designing Good Free-To-Play Games

It’s pretty clear that free-to-play games are the way to go if you care about making money from your games. And don’t give me that line about being indie and not caring about the money. On the contrary, being able to make money from the games we love to make, allows us to keep doing what we’re passionate about.

I was having a discussion today about free games with other developers and I thought I would post here some random thoughts and open it up for discussion. Continue reading

Casey’s Contraptions Postmortem

Banner

Casey’s Contraptions is an iOS game created by the two of us, Noel Llopis and Miguel Ángel Friginal. Noel, an industry veteran for over a decade, turned indie over four years ago and found success with microtransaction-based Flower Garden on iOS. Miguel worked as a graphic designer in the advertising industry for years before becoming a web developer. Casey’s Contraptions is his first published video game, although his first paper role-playing game came out almost 20 years ago. We met through Twitter several years ago, and then finally in person at a 360iDev conference. Even thought we didn’t plan it that way, we ended up working together during a game jam, and that set us in the path to collaborate in a future project.

We knew we wanted to target iOS for our next project because we love the platform from a user and a developer point of view, and because it’s a platform where it’s possible for indies to succeed financially. Beyond that, starting a new game is never easy. Even though we have page after page of possible ideas, settling on a specific game idea is always very hard. We wanted something that met three requirements: The game had to be creative in nature as opposed to using destruction as the main gameplay element, it had to be something we were excited about, and it had to be something with the potential to sell reasonably well on the Apple App Store. Easier said than done! Continue reading