Fun is the heart and soul of any successful game. Entertaining players is your main objective as a game developer. You have the privilege of taking people’s imagination to an extraordinary world away from their reality.
Here are 5 mistakes you should avoid at all costs if you want your game to be massively successful.
1- Lack of Variety
In life, a major cause of boredom is routine. Repetitive games result in unpleasant gaming experiences.
Give fresh content like :
- New challenges
- New levels
- New toys
- Unlockable content
Fresh content is always appreciated.
2- Extreme Level of Difficulty
You probably want to playtest your game yourself. And you’ll be doing it a lot.
A lot !
So often that your judgment of difficulty will be altered, running the risk of creating an extremely hard and frustrating gaming experience.
Frustration leads to boredom. Don’t frustrate your audience. Get other people to play your game. Watch them. Stay back and take notes. Make adjustments to your initial design.
3- Too Many Achievements
Achievements (also called badges, trophies or awards) are challenges defined outside of a game’s main goals. Don’t give badges for something players would do anyway.
For example, why offer me a badge for healing my character ? Is it supposed to be something only a super player could do ? Why offer me a badge for losing ? Is it some kind of joke ?
You need to keep the number of achievements to a strict minimum. For every new achievement you design, you should have a YES answer to these questions :
- Can the game be finished without getting it ?
- Are the required actions challenging enough ?
4- No Instructions
Fun factor is a direct consequence of players’ ability to understand how a game works. Ideally, your game should be so well designed that players would know how to play the second they get in front of it.
However, helping the player – even a little – is usually a good idea. Provide skippable tutorials. Cleverly integrate instructions in the flow of the game. Use images and animations instead of long paragraphs of text.
5- Too Easy
Ok, let’s say you avoided mistake #2 : you got your game played by other people, you took notes and redesigned the difficult areas. But suddenly, your game is more boring than ever !
Now your game is merely an interactive application. If a game has no challenge to offer, it loses its ability to entertain players. Don’t take players’ opinions as work directives. People can be wrong sometimes.
There’s a fine balance between too hard and too easy. Finding it is an iterative process :
- Design and develop
- Make adjustments
- Go to 1
Making a boring game is very common. It is, in fact, a good thing. Try to see it as a raw material that you can work with.
I wrote this article after stumbling upon the fact that the game I’m currently working on is boring. I’m making a 2D flying game. My design suffered a lot from mistake #1, so I decided to introduce variety by offering multiple models of aircrafts to pilot and unlockable levels.
The 1st version of PAIRWISE didn’t let you choose difficulty level. I had the game played by some friends and relatives only to discover it was too hard.
Game development is an iterative process. The most important step is to identify areas where players get bored. Making adjustments is usually straightforward.