Variety vs. Simplicity
There's an interesting new trend. OK, it's only really 2 games, so maybe 'trend' is an overstatement, but they're currently #2 and #3 on Real, so perhaps there's something there...
Tropix and Super Collapse 3 both have a LOT of different game modes/mini-games, with some of them being quite different from each other.
Historically, it seems like most of the more successful titles just had one style of gameplay, with possibly a timed/untimed variation, and occasionally a 'puzzle' mode. Bejewelled 2, Zuma, Chuzzle, JewelQuest, Luxor, Diner Dash, etc all followed this model.
For the most part, they didn't even have a lot of complexity within their core game - new concepts/power-ups were introduced quite gradually.
But Tropix applies the same visual style/theme to many different tried-n-true gameplay mechanics, and Super Collapse 3 has 7 main game modes plus lots of mini-games.
So has the casual gamer become more sophisticated and tolerant/interested in variety and complexity within a single game? Or is this a fluke?
I doubt it's a fluke -- I reckon we'll see an increase in ability from casual gamers over time.
Originally Posted by Phil Steinmeyer
While they started out as very simple (albeit challenging), core games have become more complex over the years to cater to the growing number of "learned" gamers. I think we're seeing the same type of behavior repeating among casual gamers as they become more adept at gaming. And it makes sense -- you can't be a noob forever.
Bejeweled 2 has 4 different game modes that are obvious, and the gratification (visual/sound effects, challenge) has kept me coming back again and again (yeah, I'm one of those 30-something mums - or moms depending where you're from - that's hooked on those kind of games), but when I discovered there were HIDDEN game modes that get unlocked as a reward for progressing - some quite different to the run-of-the-mills, that was really a clincher for me! I HAD to keep playing to see how many more there were.
Maybe if you're game's compelling enough to warrant returning to (rather than moving onto something else once you're done with the standard play/levels), having an extra little surprise here and there to reward the player will renew their interest all over again.
As mentioned by skinflint in the Reflexive Interview on Gamasutra thread, Reflexive are shipping level editors with some of their games (RLW series, BKR, BKW) and providing a facility where players can share their own creations and download hundreds of others' creations at no cost. As well as forums where everyone can hang out. This gives them several new sets of customers - there are some who get a greater thrill using the level editor than actually playing the game themselves (says she, sheepishly putting her hand up), and I don't know how many times I've read how impressed a person is when they "discover" the forums and the download sites and have all these NEW games to play absolutely free! And some come to the forums for company - they're like family they've "known" each other for so long. For whatever reason, the forums are incredibly high on the list of importance for them, and those people are very grateful and very loyal because of those provisions.
There's so much you can do apart from the game itself to promote customer loyalty and attract new converts! If I try and include HALF of this in my first game I think my timeline will go out to 10+ years! Just as well I have a day job
I think its a bit of an anomoly to be honest Phil.
I think its merely one of these "lets shove more into a game to get people to percieve greater value" things.
Its like shenmue having loads of mini games. Did it actually rescue what was pretty dire?
I do think you can add additional items and like Shaz mentions, editors and things are a big bonus (plus player customisability?). But I think mini-game stuff is best kept to party games like Mario party.
I just think its a bluff to add "value" to the IP rather than a brilliant move towards a new level of gameplay/development.
I think the title of this post misrepresents the games tropix and super collapse... I don't see that either of those games dropped simplicity at all in order to get variety. The number of choices you have at any moment in time is fairly small (around 7) and by and large, you are doing the exact same things over and over again.
Originally Posted by Phil Steinmeyer
In the grand scheme of things, those games are very simple.
I actually think its a fluke (a wonderful one)...
Tropix was one of the few casual games I've ever purchased - there is just a taste of so many different games that it finally made it worth it to me...
Portals have told us before when we submitted Office Life that consumers do not enjoy a wide range of different games and instead like a solid core game. Obviously Office Life has its share of problems (which we will work on since we got Speedy out the door), but I still think its wise to stick with one gameplay mode that is great.
Well, it seems to me that they didn't have much choice if they wanted to make Super Collapse 3. Or at least this was the most obvious and "safest" way to extend the game. It's better than the good old breaking by fixing unbroken thing.
Anyway I think it's possible to compensate the lack of great new ideas by adding more stuff and having very high production values. Still, if you come up with something like Zuma (let's not argue where they got the idea), you'll probably don't have to "try to sell it" so much (with a thousand different game modes, billions of levels, n+1 screensavers, and online score lists).
I'm not saying either way is bad, though.
I think having a solid core is key, but you want to vary the gameplay whether it is by adding new elements, a different stage here and there, or a minigame / reinvisioning of the basic elements of the core.
Originally Posted by Sirrus
I don't know about you, but puzzle games get repetitive unless all of a sudden at level 10 you get a new ability or the levels differ (meteos for gameboy has different shapes, gravity, pieces on each planet for example). Or to use a indie game example, look at Prof. Fizzwizzle where each subsequent level builds on the core gameplay elements introducing new things.