My Next Game

In my last post I said that I would be sketching out ideas for my next game over a series of posts. This hasn’t happened and in addition to that I’ve missed an entire post. At the risk of turning this into another horrendous iDevBlogADay post about failed promises and lack of time – I’ll just say, I haven’t done that.

Instead, I’ve been fighting a bit of a battle in my head about what my next game should be. Not just in terms of idea but also in terms of monetisation. I recognise that lots of developers are going free in a bid to reduce the barrier to entry but at the same time this means monetising the game in some form other than a one-off purchase (in-game currency is becoming more and more popular). I also recognise that I should be jumping on this bandwagon. Whilst Freemium (that’s what the “cool” kids call it) probably won’t be THE future of gaming, it will almost certainly represent a large part of it.

The problem I have is that I kind of sigh when I see a freemium game in the App store. I rarely buy in-game currency or IAP of any kind (unless its additional content for a game I really like).

The dilemma I have is that I’m finding it difficult to come up with a concept for a freemium game where I myself would pay for the virtual currency. As a result I’m stuck between building a game for others (and maximum revenue) vs building it for myself (and others like me).

I’m not against freemium but I’ve decided to park it temporarily. Instead my next game will just simply be a game (the game its meant to be). Monetisation will not be part of my design process and I’ll decide what to charge once its built. That may be a one-off fee or it may be free. It won’t however be riddled with virtual currency.

With money removed from the equation it all starts to feel fun again – which is kind of why I’m doing it. I know its not that easy for a lot of you, especially those who do this full time. But for now I have the luxury of a full time job and this is a hobby.

So, I’ve thought a lot about the type of game I want to make. RPG’s have always been something that I’ve enjoyed. I like that they offer choice and exploration, along with a story that I can lose myself in.

More recently I’ve been enjoying the new-ish sub-genre (or perhaps genre mashup is a better name) that is the Puzzle RPG. This was popularised by Puzzle Quest but recently there has been a bit of an explosion creating equally enjoyable games such as Dungeon Raid and King Cashing.

I’d love to create a full RPG but I simply don’t yet have the skill or resource to complete it. The Puzzle RPG is the perfect fit for me because it could be much smaller in scope.

So, once again making a promise that I may not keep, that’s my next game – a puzzle RPG.

I haven’t decided on platform or the tech i’ll use to create it. I’m seriously considering targeting a desktop platform and also looking into cross-platform engines.

That said, I’m currently prototyping with cocos2d on iPhone because its what I know so its faster for me. I have a basic prototype (with the core gameplay mechanic). The problem is that it isn’t quite fun. My next challenge is to knock it into shape so that the core mechanic is enjoyable before I begin to design the additional layers of complexity.

I’m also going to start to play around with Art. I haven’t decided on a visual style for the game as yet and I may take this opportunity to delve into 3D modelling.

The remainder of this year will be about prototyping, sample visuals, and making that core gameplay mechanic fun. I want to start 2012 ready to go into full production mode. If all goes to plan, this will be THE game that I want to make with no monetisation concerns overshadowing its production.

I’ll aim to share bits and bobs from the prototyping phase this year so stay tuned for slightly more regular posts.

9 Comments

  1. Kyle says:

    Best of luck with the planning stages of your next project. I feel much the same about what to do next after that first app. Armed with all this new knowledge and experience I find it harder to start on that second project.

    In the end, I too have opted, for the time being, to avoid markets I don’t understand or feel comfortable building to. After all, our product should come first over building to currently popular market trends.

  2. Chris says:

    @Kyle

    Thanks.

    I agree that product should come first. I think, as a hobbyist, its easy to get caught up in the App store distribution model and begin placing monetisation at the forefront of what you do. Ultimately though I’m in this because I like writing games, not because I’m trying to build a business.

    Its difficult constantly moving on to the next project when you measure your success against financial reward. If you remove that from the equation though, its a huge weight of your mind (it certainly is for me :)

    Good luck with your next game too. I just purchased Pixel Fighters – looks nice.

  3. Lazrhog says:

    Ahh, soon be welcoming you to the world of blender then. I’ll be able to give you some help there when you need it :)

  4. Chris says:

    :) that would be great actually.

  5. Kyle says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more on all of the above.

    Cheers on the purchase :), the design probably outshines the quality of my RPG coding :S I think you’re smart to take the puzzle approach, I’d love to re-attack the genre from that POV one day – I tried more of this pseudo-RPG for mobile thing that took the essence of RPG without the longevity.

  6. Chris says:

    @Kyle

    No problem. I’m liking into so far. Only done the tutorial though.

    I guess it will come down to variety.

    I think distilling the mechanics of full RPG’s can work very well. It’s just a question of making sure the core gameplay is fun.

  7. Kyle says:

    I think as a hobbyist or full time indie, you have to include monitization into the design spec of your game. I feel it’s almost irresponsible not to. There is no reason not to do a fun game you like WITH proper monetization built in.

    As a small time (indie) developer, the hard thing for us to get is visibility. Going freemium offers us that chance at getting more visibility (downloads) without having to be Chillingo.

    My vote… Freemium with proper monetization. I mean you dont have to ream the user, but if they like it, they will spend the money to buy whatever IAP you are offering if it enhances their experience.

    0.02 =)

  8. Chris says:

    @Kyle #2

    It’s an interesting point you raise about responsibility. As a hobbyist, assuming I don’t care about short term financial gain, going free will maximise my audience. However, releasing quality apps for free (without IAP) is unlikely to win you any friends.

    So I understand your point about it being irresponsible not to. I think that you can leave the decision to later if you are just doing a flat price or totally free though. It’s only a virtual currency system that will have a significant impact on the game design.

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