What have you learned?

Tenchizard

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We are spoiled for choice. If something lacks a good hook, there is no incentive to keep at it. They'll go do soemthign else. 
And that's what I mean with players being lazy. They won't keep playing in case something special happen, they'll just get another game. And not just in this contest, but in general.

And that's why my conclusion is the same: if you don't have a name and reputation to stand for, go for the eyes. Figuratively, of course :p
 

Indrah

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Thats...not being lazy. Thats having options. Lazy would be if a game was engaging but the player refused to do any work, or soemthing similar.

Would you call a viewer lazy if they refused to watch a movie till the end if they did not like it? Of course not.
 

Matseb2611

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And that's what I mean with players being lazy. They won't keep playing in case something special happen, they'll just get another game. And not just in this contest, but in general.

And that's why my conclusion is the same: if you don't have a name and reputation to stand for, go for the eyes. Figuratively, of course :p
I wouldn't really call it laziness on behalf of the players. Just an over-abundance of choice. I get this a lot, and not just with RM games, but with big studio games too. If the game doesn't hook me, I stop playing it, because my Steam library has dozens of other games I could be trying out instead of wasting my time on something that fails to stimulate either my senses or my mind. ;)
 

jtrev23

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And that's what I mean with players being lazy. They won't keep playing in case something special happen, they'll just get another game. And not just in this contest, but in general.

And that's why my conclusion is the same: if you don't have a name and reputation to stand for, go for the eyes. Figuratively, of course :p
It's not only about hooking the player, it's also about the type of game you make; some things is just out of your control. Some people hate puzzle games, so no matter how good or pretty your game is, you will never hook that player, or some people just refuse to play other platform games because Mario will always be better in their eyes. In this case its not a matter of the player being lazy, but that the player is just stubborn.
 

Cinnamon

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I agree with Indrah. For once RM is flooded with too many games to play. It's a lot easier to drop a game that doesn't grip you when there are so many other great options. I passed on a lot of great games for this very reason.

Hmm what did I learn from this contest? That I still feel most alive when I'm crunching on a game and everyone on the team is invested. Hard to get that feeling unless there is a real deadline with stakes. Ever since the end of the contest the team has been waffling. It's good that we can now take a step back and start to see how our contest entry will grow into a full length RPG but I miss the energy we had during the contest.
Hey Artbane, what is your contest entry? I don't think I've seen it, unless you set it to "Private"?

And yeah I agree about missing the energy from the contest. It's good to have more time to work things out properly, but I love the intensity of a contest. It was like being in the same room with the rest of the team, cheering each other on. After the contest it's just... back to normal. A little work every day here and there.
 

B.Ultimus

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And that's what I mean with players being lazy. They won't keep playing in case something special happen, they'll just get another game. And not just in this contest, but in general.

And that's why my conclusion is the same: if you don't have a name and reputation to stand for, go for the eyes. Figuratively, of course :p
It is not the laziness of the player, it's the lack of marketing/design from the developer.  It's your responsibility to attract the attention of the player, not theirs. 
 
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Merlandese

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... it's the lack of marketing/design from the developer.  It's your responsibility to attract the attention of the player, not theirs. 
Definitely! Probably my least favorite part of game design, especially since it's so important while also being the most out-of-game thing you have to do.
 

Tenchizard

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Thats...not being lazy. Thats having options. Lazy would be if a game was engaging but the player refused to do any work, or soemthing similar.

Would you call a viewer lazy if they refused to watch a movie till the end if they did not like it? Of course not.
When you recommend a movie to a viewer, and he watches just the first five minutes before turning it off by saying something like "I don't like it", he is being lazy (or stubborn, I like that word too). This works for almost anything that can be considered art. And what I have learned in the contest is that you must consider the players as lazy ones. That's what it means calling them that. That you have to consider them that way, in order to build a game that will defeat their lazyness/stubnnorness and get through to them. 

 

It is not the laziness of the player, it's the lack of marketing/design from the developer.  It's your responsibility to attract the attention of the player, not theirs. 
I really have to wonder if any of you are actually reading both what I said and your responses, as everyone is saying the same yet everyone is disagreeing.

If you don't want to call the players "lazy", don't do it. Someone called them stubborn and it may be even more appropriate. Nobody is insulting the players, if that's what you fear. And of course I'm not blaming the players for not playing my game or anyone else's: it's just that as a game designer, from now on, I'll consider that player lazyness and take it into account when making games. 

As you said, it's the developer's duty to attract the attention of the player, and that is because the players are, generally speaking, lazy/stubborn/whatever you want to call them. You have to please a difficult public, because there's a ton of choices out there and yours must be somehow special. They won't put any effort into sticking to your game because they can always pick another one. Considering the players as lazy or stubborn is a very good starting point if you want to make a game that gets to many different people.

So, everyone... instead of debating semantics, wouldn't it be better if you said what you think you can do to attract those players who you think might like your game, but who didn't play it enough or at all? Was your game selling point really the selling point? Did pleasant graphics and sound help at it being played? Did you tone difficulty down a lot so it could be more accessible? 
 

Cinnamon

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So, everyone... instead of debating semantics, wouldn't it be better if you said what you think you can do to attract those players who you think might like your game, but who didn't play it enough or at all? Was your game selling point really the selling point? Did pleasant graphics and sound help at it being played? Did you tone difficulty down a lot so it could be more accessible?
I'm going to chime in here. *pop*

One of my games (the best one imo) didn't perform that well because I marketed it towards casual gamers (it was flowery, cute; some even labeled it "furry" and I'm not such a fan of that). The game itself however is pretty amazing and has a deep, dark and borderline controversial story. Most people who played it absolutely loved it. Alas, it was a failed experiment to see how a "cute game" would perform.

Now in terms of attracting players... I'm personally (and I think most others) attracted to games that have a unique hook and some depth to it. A moral, a life lesson; something relevant to our world that needs to be told. Most commercial games -- even the ones that seem like shallow, typical jRPGs -- have an underlying message. Even if you might not understand the message, the fact that the game has depth seeps through the story and atmosphere. I always begin my games that way. "What do I want to convey to the player? What is the point of my story?" I've addressed isolation, escapism, sexual abuse, alcoholism and -- with Unraveled -- the life of people at ship breaking yards. Then I go from there. "What genre would fit the game best? What gameplay elements?" In the case of Unraveled having no dialogue at all is a key element in conveying my message.

As for having a unique hook... That can go in a lot of ways. Soul Echoes has a pretty good hook. Being sent down to earth with a couple of superheroes to protect the world. It's fun, quirky, interesting. A lot can be done with that. Perhaps the people on the earth have built temples for these heroes. How would they react when they met them? Would they even recognize them? And how would the superheroes react to hearing the gossip etc. about them? But really, even if you have the best hook you need some relatively fast-paced gameplay, especially at the beginning when the players aren't invested in your characters and story yet. Just look at A Painted Heart. Flawless art and hook, but the battle system and illogical gameplay really sort of destroy that one. Plus, the pretentious dialogue is more funny than engaging. It's like having morals shoved down your throat while the developer yells at you "LOOK AT IT! THIS IS DEEP! DO YOU FEEL IT NOW?!". xD
 
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Tenchizard

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Really insightful post, Cinnamon :)

Out of curiosity, what was that other game of yours you mention? You piqued my curiosity with your description ^_^
 

Simon D. Aelsi

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I've learned several things. The most important of all for me it to ALWAYS GET EARLY FEEDBACK! This early feedback is priceless and it's a practice I will... well...practice!

I also learned that you can't please everyone. You just can't and that is the reality of ANY form of art. If you try too hard to please EVERYONE, you'll end up pleasing NO ONE.

This is probably the biggest one of all: Never ever rush. Quality over quantity!
 

Cinnamon

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Really insightful post, Cinnamon :)

Out of curiosity, what was that other game of yours you mention? You piqued my curiosity with your description ^_^
I got interviewed here so I'll link you to it when it's published after the contest. ^_^; It's about my past games as well.
 

jtrev23

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I've learned several things. The most important of all for me it to ALWAYS GET EARLY FEEDBACK! This early feedback is priceless and it's a practice I will... well...practice!

I also learned that you can't please everyone. You just can't and that is the reality of ANY form of art. If you try too hard to please EVERYONE, you'll end up pleasing NO ONE.

This is probably the biggest one of all: Never ever rush. Quality over quantity!
YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

Being a solo dev and not having any playtesters that wasn't family I was unable to realize that my color choice for the font wasn't a very good one. 

I honestly think my game might have the most mixed reviews that I've seen. People either love it or hate it, and very few fall in the middle.

I agree with you up until the end. While in retrospect it's nice to say I shouldn't have rushed some parts, if I didn't rush at all, my game would be incomplete and probably not a contender for the competition. 
 

Matseb2611

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So, everyone... instead of debating semantics, wouldn't it be better if you said what you think you can do to attract those players who you think might like your game, but who didn't play it enough or at all? Was your game selling point really the selling point? Did pleasant graphics and sound help at it being played? Did you tone difficulty down a lot so it could be more accessible?
Just a few things I consider that can really help to keep the players playing the game past the first few minutes:

- Good presentation (no bugs, smooth controls, clear UI, suitable atmosphere for the setting, etc)

- No story info dumps. Throw the player straight into action. Don't start the game by telling them about some ancient war. They don't care about it until they've played the game a bit further.

- Show, don't tell. Don't write walls of text of backstory and lore. Don't tell the player the qualities a character possesses. Show it all by making them interact with the game's world. Define the characters by their actions.

- Keep the pace reasonable in the early stages. If the player gets stuck early on on a difficult puzzle or not knowing where to go, they'll stop playing.

- Keep the difficulty curve light in the early stages. Immerse the player first, then challenge them. Not the other way around.

- Don't overwhelm the player with too many skills, gameplay mechanics, and convoluted tutorials. Space these things out and let the player get into the game gradually. If some gameplay mechanic is not used until later, there's no need to introduce it until the need arises.

- Good soundtrack. Some people might disagree with me, but I find it that good background music can keep me playing the game for longer, even if I am not too hot on the gameplay. It might keep the players interested just long enough to get to the part of the game when it really picks up.

- Make something happen storywise at all times. If the player says 'Is there any story in this game?' at any point, then the game has already failed to keep them interested. Ideally the main conflict should become apparent in the first 10-15 minutes of the game (but without the info dump).

Hope these help.
 

Simon D. Aelsi

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Just a few things I consider that can really help to keep the players playing the game past the first few minutes:

- Good presentation (no bugs, smooth controls, clear UI, suitable atmosphere for the setting, etc)

- No story info dumps. Throw the player straight into action. Don't start the game by telling them about some ancient war. They don't care about it until they've played the game a bit further.

- Show, don't tell. Don't write walls of text of backstory and lore. Don't tell the player the qualities a character possesses. Show it all by making them interact with the game's world. Define the characters by their actions.

- Keep the pace reasonable in the early stages. If the player gets stuck early on on a difficult puzzle or not knowing where to go, they'll stop playing.

- Keep the difficulty curve light in the early stages. Immerse the player first, then challenge them. Not the other way around.

- Don't overwhelm the player with too many skills, gameplay mechanics, and convoluted tutorials. Space these things out and let the player get into the game gradually. If some gameplay mechanic is not used until later, there's no need to introduce it until the need arises.

- Good soundtrack. Some people might disagree with me, but I find it that good background music can keep me playing the game for longer, even if I am not too hot on the gameplay. It might keep the players interested just long enough to get to the part of the game when it really picks up.

- Make something happen storywise at all times. If the player says 'Is there any story in this game?' at any point, then the game has already failed to keep them interested. Ideally the main conflict should become apparent in the first 10-15 minutes of the game (but without the info dump).

Hope these help.
They do. Thanks! :cutesmile: Though, do be careful about the soundtrack thing, not everyone can shell out money for custom songs or have connections... and very few are musicians in their own right. :)

Even so, I'm sure that with a little determination, almost anything is possible!
 

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Never eat yellow snow! ;)
 

Matseb2611

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They do. Thanks! :cutesmile: Though, do be careful about the soundtrack thing, not everyone can shell out money for custom songs or have connections... and very few are musicians in their own right. :)

Even so, I'm sure that with a little determination, almost anything is possible!
Yeah, of course, it's understandable. I think what I meant is not so much the songs being custom (though that is certainly a better option), but so that the music is generally pleasant to listen to and fits the setting well, so that the player can feel the atmosphere of the location they're in.
 

Simon D. Aelsi

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Yeah, of course, it's understandable. I think what I meant is not so much the songs being custom (though that is certainly a better option), but so that the music is generally pleasant to listen to and fits the setting well, so that the player can feel the atmosphere of the location they're in.
Very true! You wouldn't want a pleasant happy song playing in the middle of a graveyard just because it sounds "cool"... :guffaw:
 

Cinnamon

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Very true! You wouldn't want a pleasant happy song playing in the middle of a graveyard just because it sounds "cool"... :guffaw:
You could do that depending on the situation. xD
 

Geoff Moore

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I learned that if you rush into making a game with a new engine in less than a month, you will spend the subsequent six weeks reading how things should be done and saying, "Man, that would have saved me so much time!" In retrospect, I probably should have spent the first week just reading tutorials and browsing the forum before diving in, but meh. Luckily my game's small enough that I've been able to tidy things up fairly quickly. Common events are really, really useful, lol.
 

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