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Messages - waffles

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Conifer and the Games Industry / Re: Your Feelings on Mobile Games?
« on: April 09, 2013, 07:44:13 PM »
In short, I've been waiting to play a game like AtG on a mobile device. I'm a little embarrassed to say I didn't realize you were planning to release a version for iOS. Now I feel kind of awkward asking, "why not Android, too?"

Besides obviously being fun, I expect a mobile game to be extremely polished and pretty inexpensive (< $2 usually). It's peculiar in some ways that I expect an inexpensive, relatively-simple game to be even more polished than a complex PC game. I've probably been conditioned over 20+ years to expect bugs and patches for PC games, whereas I've immediately given up on mobile games that showed even the slightest annoyance. Perhaps I'm willing to endure more frustrations with PC games because they tend to be fairly expensive, and maybe I feel like I have an investment to protect.

It's very cool that there's relatively small risk on the part of consumers in trying new games. I guess a downside is that you basically get only a few minutes to make a solid first impression on a consumer, which has all sorts of implications for how you will make the opening few minutes of AtG as interesting as possible. You also need to test the living daylights out of the mobile version, which may make releasing it seem inordinately time-consuming.

I'm curious as to how well some of the algorithms in the PC version will scale to mobile devices. For instance, you may have to take into account the processing power of the mobile devices when you develop your AI approach to maintain snappy gameplay on relatively low-horsepower devices. Long AI turns in Civ-like games are a huge, huge turn-off.

Pricing is, of course, the $64K question. I like the idea that Steam and others appear to have: they play around with pricing to gather some data on what generates sales. The curious thing, I've heard, is that when a low price or deal of the day is presented, it generates increased volumes of sales for several days after the sale has expired. So experiment! Also, I vastly appreciate relevant ad banners in free versions of games instead of in-app purchases, to the point where it is a discriminating factor in my purchases. In-app purchases raises a red flag in my mind. For one, I think in-app purchases tend to target and exploit children who do not realize what they are doing. For another, I think the inclusion of in-app purchases signals that the developer is more focused on structuring a game to generate revenue than bringing to life a creative passion of theirs. It may be a little silly, but the motives of the developer matter to me.




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I think we're less likely to see one or two big failures knocking out major game developers than we are to see the big game developers taking fewer risks in developing new brands. The tendency will be to stick with proven product lines in the form of sequels when it comes to putting massive amounts of money on the line.

A lot has been made of the emergence of mobile games and the decline of PC gaming in recent years. I wonder if the pendulum will ever swing back the other way. I find PC games to be much more enduring, whereas mobile games might last me a few weeks at a time. On the other hand, the shear number of decent mobile games, relative to PC games, may mean that when the mobile game du jour has come and gone, there's another ready to take its place.

I suppose the direction of game development will come down to (1) how expensive or complicated is it to develop a relatively high-quality game for the target platform, (2) how hard is it to spread the word about the game, and (3) how much risk, say in the form of price or time commitment, is required for a new user to take a chance on the game? I'd have to say that the factors appear to weigh heavily in the favor of mobile platforms, as compared to PCs or consoles.

That said, in my mind at least, I'll always love the deeply immersive and addictive games that I think only consoles and PC have provided. I cannot really think of any mobile games that have provided me such experiences, and I hope the appeal of the mobile markets does not lure the premier PC and console developers away from developing the next WoW, Civ, Skyrim, or Mass Effect.

I will say this for the mobile gaming boom: it seems to have gotten more people making games. It's good to have more people with those skills. In fact, one of the major reasons I sponsored AtG is the openness that you expressed during the Kickstarter drive to give us a peek behind the curtains at how a game is made. I've been curious how all the different aspects of producing a game come together, and this seemed like just the right size and scope to be able to follow much of what goes on. Plus, you know, the game looked fun!


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AtG - Developer Updates / Re: 2013 April 2 - AI - Mini Update
« on: April 02, 2013, 08:18:56 PM »
Most important thing to focus on? How about making the AI easily scriptable and modifiable? Playing with AI scripts could be a lot of fun for some players, and perhaps the most interesting and effective AIs would emerge from the collective efforts of those players.

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