Saturday, May 07, 2016

Revisiting Old Games In Development

Like every game developer I have a lot of game ideas.

Most are ideas jotted down in notebooks, on scraps of paper or as notes on my phone. Sometimes the ideas progress to prototypes on the computer/smart phone to test out. It's here where I find out that some ideas are better left as just ideas.

I also have a few games that I've built out to a reasonable level of completion - but not released. There are many reasons for not finishing them. Sometimes they aren't working, other times the market has shifted and they don't make sense to pursue, and other times better opportunities take precedence.

I have a playable version of a text adventure game called Return of the Amazon Queen on the iPhone and Apple Watch. It's designed as a paid game, but sadly the market for paid games has really dried up - at least on mobile. So this game has been shelved until I can work out a way to make a story driven text game work as free to play.
Return of the Amazon Queen

Another game I developed to almost completion was a simple endless runner. I shelved it when I struggled to find a way to make it compelling beyond just a few days of play.
Endless Runner

That's the problem with quick twitch games - they need a meta game to engage the player beyond the initial thrill of play. There are so many free games competing for players attention that a game needs a reason to come back. Crossy Road does a great job with the overall Pokemon/Skylanders collection mechanic of engaging the player's desire to want to collect every character and thus re-engage in the game.

It became obvious that building out such a mechanic was a big job and was at odds with the idea of quickly developing a fast twitch game  The core game could be produced quickly, but the meta game (especially for sole developer) could take a lot of time. With that realisation I put the game on hold.

I've just finished a huge update for Save Our Village, a free to play game that has good retention, a strong meta-game and a monetisation system that works . As a result I've got time to go over some of my old shelved games to see if a new perspective can help solve old issues.

I have some ideas on how to make a narrative text game work as free, and I've reconsidered ditching the meta game for the endless runner.

So for the next few weeks I may make some progress on either one of these two games... at least until Save Our Village launches and work begins on preparing the next update for that game :-)

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