Need advice for my 2nd indie game

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by coffee, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. coffee

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi all

    I have scraped enough money together to have my 2nd serious shot at a budget indie game, It will be a continuation of my last game santa's Workshop(which is now free BTW).

    Santa's Workshop was a modest success selling 47 copies 39 of which were for MAC, unfortunately it wasn't ready until mid November 2009 so I think I missed the boat.

    I did get some feed back from BigFish who essentially said it needs more stuff, like mini games, power-up's and a story.

    So here I am a baby among giants holdings my hands out saying "please sir may I have some more?" Looking for advice on my 2nd serious stab and indie success.

    As I explained the base game will play similar to Santa's workshop (sokoban). So here's my plan for [insert game name here]..

    • Will feature 100 sokoban puzzles (not the really hard ones - no more than 5 boxes at most)
    • Fully mouse controlled (as it is now).
    • It WONT have a seasonal theme.
    • It will feature unlockable mini games such as Arkonoid and Match 3 which you can play as much as you like. - mouse controlled
    • It will have a story or at least an introduction to the setting and characters.
    • I will add a power-up called a "dream potion" - you earn these from scoring points in the mini games, what it does is show you how to solve the puzzle, you then wake up and have to solve it yourself.
    • A little more eye candy whistles and bells.

    Any advice is welcome.
     
  2. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Messages:
    2,387
    Likes Received:
    12
    What are your goals? Are you trying to get rich, to get by or to make a kind of game that would make you happy to create? No aspersions - offering advice without an objective....
     
  3. coffee

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    0
    Want to make a game people will want to play, not looking to get rich, break even would be fine at this stage.
     
  4. lennard

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Messages:
    2,387
    Likes Received:
    12
    Are you married to your code base? With those goals I would consider moving to online Flash and iterating lots so you can use a sandbox approach to seeing what people respond to. Regular updates and tracking of your results will help you figure out what people are responding to.
     
  5. Wrote A Game or Two

    Wrote A Game or Two New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    0
    OK. If you really do mean you "want to make a game people will want to play" and that's it, then don't change a thing.

    If however you meant you "want to make a game people will want to BUY", read on (and please don't take any of what I'm about to say as an insult - I'm simply offering to share my own very similar experiences and what I learned from it).

    As an author of a game that actually did get picked up by Bigfish and still flopped spectacularly, I think I can sum up what's wrong with this idea in one sentence:

    It's still the same game that didn't sell before.

    It'll do about what our game did - be fun to play for an hour, then bore the player into downloading something else. We got a TON of downloads, but very few sales. VERY few. You are essentially at the same point we were about 3 months ago when we started work on our second game: Scratching our heads and going "Damn, that sucks, why didn't it sell?"

    Well it didn't sell for a number of reasons. Here's (IMHO) the top 3:

    #1 It was just a simple match 3 game. It had no powerups, no story, no "hook". Just a fun way to waste time. It would have done great as a 99 cent game for mobile phones. But as a $7 casual PC game? Yeah - not so much.

    #2. It wasn't really properly executed. The menu system was clunky. The graphics were kinda ugly and not really very polished looking. It was glitchy. Sometimes you could move an item two spaces at a time instead of just one. Sometimes you'd click it and it wouldn't move at all.

    #3. There was nothing about our game that made it really much different from all the other 892,094,243,341 match 3's out there other than you didn't have to make a match to move a piece. Again, that's a fun thing to try out - for an hour. Then it's "meh".

    Now, this isn't to say that a Sokoban game won't sell. But it's a tough sell to the BFG crowd who mainly like pixel hunts - ehh, I mean Hidden Object and Time Management games - which is just another pixel hunt, really... find X and take it to Y, rinse, wipe hands on pants, repeat. ;)

    If it were me writing your game, I'd focus all my energy right now on a really engrossing story because THAT is what will ultimately sell your game on BFG. If your game just has the same mechanics over and over and not much else then it'll get played for an hour and then deleted like ours did. BUT if it has a story that is so good people just HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, they'll really want to buy that game and that's what you want.

    Our newest game has that, plus a much better menu system and just more overall polish. It really looks much more like a professional game and not just something someone made for the hell of it like our last one did. And the feedback we've gotten on it already indicates that it will do much better than our last one did. And yeah, we spent a few bucks to put it together, paying for recording studio time, voice talent and a professionally written soundtrack. Those things really do matter I think. We'll see of course if I'm right or not, but as I've said in another post on here, it would be really hard to do worse than we did last time, so I have to believe it will do better.

    I hope that helps you - again, no insult meant by any of this, just sharing my own experiences and what I learned. Good luck!
     
  6. Grey Alien

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    2,797
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree with Wrote A Game or Two's advice. Meta games help to keep players playing up to and beyond the hour demo. Polish in all areas is important. Also Arkanoid minigames won't go down well with the BFG crowd who are not action game fans. If you have a puzzle game, adding action minigames with loose players. Minigames also need skip buttons.
     
  7. hippocoder

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Messages:
    591
    Likes Received:
    0
    Interesting that, any chance of more write-ups on variety in games, hooks and such? I believe this is something I need to work on.
     
  8. amaranth

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2005
    Messages:
    471
    Likes Received:
    7
    REWARDS. The player needs some sort of reward for finishing a level. A reward needs to do something useful for the player. Each reward should be unique so that the player does not get bored.

    Before you make this game, play your competitors games (especially the ones that sell well) and take detailed notes. More or less, create a design doc for these games. You need to understand structures that appeal to players.
     
  9. coffee

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the replies guys - lots of info there for me to soak up.

    The mini games will be optional and a means to earn points to unlock items, if a player does not like arkonid then maybe they would prefer one of the other mini games. These games can be played as much or as little as the player wants as accessed via the main menu 'mini games'.

    I plan at-least 5 mini games each unlocked after 'x' levels (this will be determined in play testing)... also some story sequences in between.

    I feel Sokoban is due for it time in the sun, who would of though match3, sudoku, hidden object games etc would be so popular. It only take one real good version for people to take notice. Maybe I can do it.
     
    #9 coffee, Jun 14, 2010
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2010
  10. Grey Alien

    Indie Author

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2005
    Messages:
    2,797
    Likes Received:
    0
    Another standard element is a progress system such as a map. Still overlooked by some devs.
     
  11. coffee

    Original Member

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2005
    Messages:
    56
    Likes Received:
    0
    hi Grey yeah I am going to do that. As you said seems standard to have that now. And is a nice transition\buffer from the title screen to the ingame stuff.
     
  12. Wrote A Game or Two

    Wrote A Game or Two New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2009
    Messages:
    179
    Likes Received:
    0
    Shit, now he tells us.... our next game is a brickbreaker/Arkanoid-like game. ;)

    In all seriousness, BFG has been monitoring our progress with this one and we've gotten good reviews so far. I don't think they'd be helping us so much with this one if they didn't also believe it has a chance of success. Even though it's somewhat of an action game, it's REALLY forgiving (my 3 year old can actually play thru a level or two) and it's also a good stress reliever because it appeals to a basic human desire to break stuff to feel better. My wife loves taking time out every now and then to fire up the game and smash things on the screen - she says she enjoys the sound the bricks make when they shatter. By contrast, I think I can count on one hand (with 3 fingers left over) how many times she played our first game before shrugging and saying "That's nice, dear". She's a typical BFG customer - likes stories, not a fan of action games - thinks they're too hard, etc.

    Time will tell of course if BFG players will like this one or not, but I'm hoping it will prove that you can do other genres than time management or hidden object and still be successful with a casual game as long as you are careful to keep it accessible to casual gamers. If not then nuts to all of it, I'll be creating pixel hunts like everyone else. ;)
     

Share This Page

  • About Indie Gamer

    When the original Dexterity Forums closed in 2004, Indie Gamer was born and a diverse community has grown out of a passion for creating great games. Here you will find over 10 years of in-depth discussion on game design, the business of game development, and marketing/sales. Indie Gamer also provides a friendly place to meet up with other Developers, Artists, Composers and Writers.
  • Buy us a beer!

    Indie Gamer is delicately held together by a single poor bastard who thankfully gets help from various community volunteers. If you frequent this site or have found value in something you've learned here, help keep the site running by donating a few dollars (for beer of course)!

    Sure, I'll Buy You a Beer