View Full Version : A rod for our own back?
08-10-2005, 02:30 AM
I was thinking about this last night. Basically are we, as developers, making life difficicult for ourselves? I've noticed that more and more games have features like User Profiles and Quest modes.
Do the customers actually value them? Or are they features that we add to improve on the game before? How long before all games will have to have profiles and lengthy quest modes just to compete with each other? Or is it a sign of the bar being raised in general?
08-10-2005, 03:08 AM
Well the profile system is a good one. I doubt it will make people very much more likely buy it, but I bet it helps. For example, imagine a really polished puzzle game without any of those things (profiles, quest mode, tutorials etc). Do you think the game would be as good? I don't.
As with most things in game design, its the hundreds of little extras that add up to make someone more likely to buy.
08-10-2005, 03:30 AM
Most customers - no. It depends on the features. What is normally not peformed is a cost/benefit analysis on a feature by feature basis.
What's the benefit of profiles when 99.9% of games are played by one player on one computer, for example? If it takes a couple of days' coding and art to get that into a game, you're most likely wasting your time. However if having 0.1% more sales gets you past a competitor into a top ten slot on some fat portal then it's clearly worth a few hours effort. That's almost completely unpredicable though.
and so on.
Puppytron was my experiment in minimalism and proved an awful lot of things were almost entirely unnecessary, as it sold quite well. What's interesting is the comparison to Ultratron, which is exactly the same game but with all sorts of bells and whistles: better graphics, better sound, more bots, bosses, progress indicator, options screen, a few challenge stages, saved games. And its conversion rate is now around 5.8% (downloads:sales) compared with Puppytron's best CR of 1.0% (downloads:sales). Clearly all the bells and whistles have done it a power of good. Unfortunately I didn't measure each improvement incrementally.
08-10-2005, 04:25 AM
Well my view on this is possibly it is true,as with most things it's progression I guess.
Everyone is looking to add that little something extra that may give their game the edge over the competitor!
You could equate the customers' view of it like that of food.......Give them something they never ate before,and if they like it,they may insist on it again in the future,and if you are unable to provide that dish,they may look elsewhere!!!
But that's just my 2 cents worth!! ;)
All the best
08-10-2005, 05:42 AM
The profiles are definitely appreciated. Just last night my wife was playing Dr.Germ for the hell of it and at the end she asked if her game was going to be saved when she quit. She was quite happy to hear that it was AND she was doubly happy to hear that she had her own profile so that her saves were seperate from mine.
James C. Smith
08-10-2005, 06:04 AM
I hear feedback from a lot of customers who use the profiles. Sometimes it is from people complaining because there are no profiles but actually they just didn't notice the button to access them. Also, it really isn’t that hard to support and you can usually reuse the effort in future games.
I am not sure about the quest mode question. For me, that is usually what the game IS. I don't add a quest mode. The game IS a quest. I wouldn’t know how to make it any other way. Or maybe I don't understand what the quest mode is that you speak of.
08-10-2005, 06:08 AM
I received the request for profiles a lot too- so I added it for Water Bugs. I found it annoying and zero-fun to program, but that's okay. It didn't take long to do.
08-10-2005, 06:26 AM
There's no rod. once you get it all sorted, you re-use those parts and just change the game.
Initial outlay is big, but further games are done a lot quicker.
08-10-2005, 06:30 AM
I think player profiles of some kind are just a necessary feature because so many people share their computer with other family members etc... People have become use to having that option and so yeah.. the bar is raised.
As for quest mode.. I donno.. Whatever kind of game I'm playing I need lots of stuff to do in the game. I've never been a fan of replaying the same game over and over just to beat scores. Sometimes I get into a little highscore competition, but I far prefer checking off all the boxes or whatever there is in the game to check off. I dont think this absolutely means a quest of many levels. It could task based todos, or anything really that acts as a long term series of goals for me to complete.
With regards to quest maps...I see that more as a marketing effort than a play effort. Its just a nice way to present how much of a game there is.. how much there is left to win. Its more effective than showing some text on a buyscreen.
08-10-2005, 06:33 AM
Regarding the Quest mode - for some games it is integral to the gameplay I agree but imagine something like Bejeweled. The game plays fine with just a continuous mechanic. Now, if you were to improve on it, one option is to add a map screen, introduce a target for each level and let the player plough through a few levels with some kind of story to back it up. It's not a lot of effort to add and the perceived value is quite high. Same with the profiles.
As an example, say you work on a logic\crossword style game and you put a Print option in so the player can take the puzzle away from the machine. If you're going to compete with that game odds are you'll need a print option too. How long before any game in that genre that doesn't have the print option will be viewed as having something missing? Rather than the other games having an extra feature?
I'm wondering whether games without those type of features will be looked upon as lower in value?
What I'm interested to see is how the games develop over the next year or two. If you compare games from two years ago to now - newer games seem a lot more fleshed out in their feature set. Is this trend set to continue? And if so what directions will it take? Will multiplayer games become a 'standard'?
James C. Smith
08-11-2005, 06:34 AM
Yes. The minimum feature set to stay competitive will continue to increase. This will make it harder for new guys to compete. Luckily you already have a lot of code, graphics, and experience doing these things so your new game can build on all your previous games. Even if you last game was a crossword puzzle and your next game is a racing game I am sure you could reuse a lot.
Maybe after the casual games all evolve into more complicated games there will be another revolution where games are reinvented in a simpler form to make them more accessible to non-“casual”-gamers. The games industry started out making casual games or simple games accessible to the mass market. Pac Man was a casual game. Over the years they continues to evolve to serve an ever more sophisticated niche target.
08-28-2005, 03:34 AM
From an artists point of view i am getting worried about where all the quest mode stuff is heading. I haven't been making games for portals for that long but my perception is not that long ago i could make one alongside some of my better paid work and all was fine and dandy work load wise. However I find now that its almost getting too hard to manage. I think games demand so much more - which isnt a bad thing, but to make them in a small team (maybe 1 or two artists and one or two coders) is almost becoming impossible/non-profitable. I am worried that the games that i really enjoy making with my mates are just not going to be worth my while as the amount of cash i get from them is not worth the massive amount of hours i now have to put in. And the company i work for in this respect cant afford to employ artists for the length of time games take to create.
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