It is every game developer's dream to make that next "big game". The kind of game that'll have people downloading and playing it like there's no tomorrow; making you a centillionaire (in British please) overnight. Another zombie game perhaps? Or maybe Plants vs Angry Birds? Or how about Gem Craft with Bloons on the side?
Unfortunately, no matter how great your game turns out to be, the only way for it to be a certified hit is... a mystery. No one can say with utmost certainty that a game is gonna be a hit unless he can see the future. Games don't make themselves great... it's the players who make great games. In order for a game to be great, it must meet the expectations of the majority (especially those with the credit card).
The problem here is... players are an unpredictable lot. They are often crazy, unreasonable, demanding, and unforgiving. The success of Angry Birds, FarmVille, Plant vs Zombies, Tetris, Pacman and all those other success stories can be likened to freaks of nature. Maybe it was the food they ate back then or the air they breathed for them to say, "Look dude! I can control falling bricks! This is freakin' AWESOME!!!! " High on drugs? Definitely, maybe.
We want to make the next big game and make people want it. We want people to play it, talk about it, hate it, love it, and need it. We want them to dream about it, eat it, breathe it, maybe get an orgasm on the side and eventually make us rich. So what must developers do to give their games a fighting chance and be noticed and played by millions? I list down 4 things which don't necessarily have to go together, but would be good if you add at least two in the mix.
If you play a game and finish all the levels, what will make you play it again? You may have different answers but in truth your subconciousness only has one thing to say: Experience. Now I'm not talking about player experience within the game where you earn points and level up your character. I'm talking real-life experience... what you get from actually playing the game. Games must give players a different experience each and every time it is played. This means that game play must be dynamic and not predetermined.
Take for example Level 1 of a platform game. There are exactly 5 enemies on the first floor, 2 enemies on the second floor, and a boss-like enemy by the exit. Every time you play, this is what is given to you. Playing a couple of times in this level will soon give a feeling of repetitiveness. It eventually becomes boring. Players who come back will not want to play this level anymore and skip to higher levels. And what happens when they do finish the game? A sense of satisfaction probably... and that's it. Will they play the game again? Maybe yes, maybe no. The game has been beaten, and since the levels remain, the same players are no longer challenged. Replayabliity is killed.
Give your players a reason to play your game over and over again... dynamic content is the best way to go.
2) Artificial Intelligence
Players want a fair amount of challenge. A game that's too easy or too hard will receive criticism from players. I wrote another article about Artificial Intelligence which you should check out. It more or less outlines how a non-player character's intelligence can make or break a game.
You read it right. A game must be emotional. It must be able to elicit emotions from players. Make your players laugh... make them angry or make them cry. A connection needs to be established between man and game. Games that conquer player's emotions will see them coming back for more. Remember the "Scary Maze" game? The one where you have to navigate through narrowing passageways when suddenly Linda Blair scares you off your seat? It went viral because it succeeded in getting an emotion. That's what your game needs to accomplish.
Your game must be controversial. It should be about something surrounded with controversy. Religion, child abuse, animal abuse, Women's rights, homosexuals, scandals, etc. A game about a controversial topic will attract both positive and negative feedback not necessarily about the game itself. Your game will be talked about and go viral. People who never play games will look for your game just to see what the fuss is all about.
The following games are controversial in dealing with drugs, personal death, and religion respectively. The number of plays were pumped up not necessarily because the games were good. It was because a number of people were outraged by the game, the game was talked about, and curiosity took over.
1) Hemp Tycoon - 16 Million plays
2) 5 Minutes to Kill Yourself - 21 Million plays
3) Bible Fight - 13 Million plays
So, for that next game of yours, think about what was said above. Don't make something awesome... make something that will shock the gaming world. It's time for your game to shine.
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