What's the Casual Game Dev's secret?

Discussion in 'Indie Basics' started by NothingLikeit, Dec 18, 2006.

  1. NothingLikeit

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    So every time I stop by different casual sites I notice that a lot of the games are quite simillar. Now I'm not out to say that all casual games are the same, just that some portals are offering slightly different versions of the same game. My question is, how can these developers pitch thier games to casual game publishers when a game with the same concept may already exist in that same space?

    And what about the game player's themselves? I mean do they notice that some games are clones? How do they decide which ones to buy?
     
  2. papillon

    Indie Author

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    I would guess the process goes "I liked that game X! I want MORE of that game!" They immediately look for a sequel, which usually isn't out yet because there's a limit on how fast we can make these things, so then they look for the next best thing - and judge the clone on whether it's at least as good as Game X that they already bought.

    If you buy FPSes, how do you decide which ones to buy? They're all the same, aren't they? :)
     
  3. whisperstorm

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    That would be awesome to have a site / wiki that has the "if you liked game X try games Y and Z" information - somewhat like Amazon where the information is not imposed on the game but comes from user ratings or something.

    Another thing you might also notice is not only do clones look alike, many casual games - regardless of subgenre - have a similar appearance / game flow.
     
  4. KNau

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    Not sure what you're asking but there really is no "pitching" that I've ever seen since they don't finance games externally. You approach the distributor with a finished / near finished game and if it's of reasonable quality they'll put it up on their site.

    I think players notice in the sense that the production quality demands keep going up for derivative titles. So a new game type may get away with lower than average production quality but by the time you reach the 3rd or 4th iteration of a game concept the players want much more.

    I believe the casual game dev secret is to completely remove any sense of "yourself" from your games; they are developed strictly as commodities to fulfill a market niche. It sounds like a jab, but it's not meant that way. If you try to develop a casual game based on your "deep burning desire for creative expression" chances are you'll fail.
     
  5. Coyote

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    Whisperstorm:

    I have a feeling that this is part of the goal of GreatGamesExperiment.com. And I know Greg Costikyan talked about it a bit prior to founding Manifesto Games.
     
  6. Jeremy Chatelaine

    Jeremy Chatelaine New Member

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    One of the reasons why portals will take similar game can be resumed by the idea of the long tail (even if it sell 2 copies a months). All sells aggregate quickly

    @whisperstorm: do you know My Great Games Experience ? That may be the closest thing I know to what you suggested :)

    EDIT: damned, the coyote was faster to post :)
     
  7. soniCron

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    Tell that to Cliffski. Or Amanda. Or Papillon. :)
     
  8. KNau

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    Ah, but Cliffski is most definitely not a casual developer, nor would I consider Amanda or Papillon in the traditional sense. The original post was referring to how casual games looked and played alike, the above examples stand out as completely different from what other developers have on offer.

    Of course, the term "casual" has been thrown about so much that it really has not meaning any more. When people say "all casual games" are the same they really mean "all the games I saw on Big Fish".
     
  9. Dan MacDonald

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    Man.. I hope Amanda, Pap, & Cliff don't feel like the flavor of the month, they seem to be brought up as a reference in just about every thread. Sometimes I wonder if we don't project our own agendas and biases on to them a little TOO much....
     
  10. soniCron

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    They're just icons of misunderstanding the casual market. Their games have deviated so far from the accepted casual gaming norm that most in the industry were surprised to find they were hits. They are shining beacons, glimmers of the potential future of casual gaming.

    I think some devs are projecting a little too much into the face of these changes, but I suspect that the conceit of these developers will perpetually hold them back, regardless.
     
  11. Christian

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    I have made an altar for each one of them, i offer sacrifices each night so that they grant me some of their mystical knowledge of indie wisdom, ill show you a picture someday :)

    PS: i only sacrifice cats that i found on the street, noone will miss them ;)

    PS2: acutally, its a problem of the publishers, they sell what they know have selled before, so they keep selling that. Its our responsibility to do different things, just like cliff, amanda and papillon did, just to name a few, i think that this industry lacks innovation, game design knowlege, and courage, thats the problem i think...
     
  12. papillon

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    nooooooooo! don't hurt the kitties!

    give the kitties to me instead!
     
  13. ZuluBoy

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    I totally agree with Dan.
    I mean, although Amanda, Papillon, and Cliffski are talented indies (like many here), calling them icons or beacons, IMHO, is exaggerated.
    For me, an icon (beacon) is Arthur, the guy behind Fish Tycoon and Virtual Villagers. Just take a look at the Global Casual Games Top 10 list to understand why.
     
  14. papillon

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    So you see, sims are the way to go! Why hasn't Adorable Kitten Tycoon come out yet?
     
  15. soniCron

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    I agree, which is why I didn't say that. ;) I expressed that their games were indicative of our misunderstanding of the casual games market. That's not to say that these styles/genres are the future of casual gaming - in fact, I think it's a mistake to think that any genre is the future of casual gaming. The truth is that there is a huge world yet to be explored among non- and casual-gamers, and these games merely hint at our misunderstanding of these people. Nobody was expecting these titles to resonate with that audience and the simple fact that they did shatters many pre-defined notions about the market, just as Virtual Villagers and Fish Tycoon did.
     
  16. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    The pressure to provide clones is/was coming from both the publishers and customers. So it wasn't generally a hinderance to have a clone of a popular game. It made things easier for you to pitch. This will sell amazing because it's just like Diner Dash! is a very effective pitch. What's difficult is convincing someone your new original idea/title will sell and getting them to give it the same attention and promotion as a game that's already market proven. I will say that the last year has been a lot better than I expected clone wise. There have been quite a few more original games getting noticed and published. So that's good.
     
  17. NothingLikeit

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    oh no whiskers!
     
  18. Fost

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    They aren't flavours of the month, they're timeless flavours :). I wouldn't call them icons, I'd call them the first rock stars of the indie industry!!
     

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