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  • Book Excerpt: Creating Casual Games for Profit and Fun

    [04.19.07]
    - Allen Partridge
  •  [Part 1, "Designing and Developing Casual Games," and Chapter 1, "Casual Game Design Basics," are printed with permission from Charles River Media. Creating Casual Games for Profit and Fun by Allen Partridge.]

    Designing and Developing Casual Games

    A variety of genres and formats are now commonplace in the newly emerging casual games market. This part of the book includes an examination and analysis of hit casual games and successful genres as well as an introduction to the basic model used by game developers to create casual games (Figure 1.1 seen in title image).

    You will learn to implement a casual game, from initial treatment to final installation, in this part of the book. Casual games typically feature many special techniques that are detailed and demonstrated in Adobe Flash and Adobe Director. Common game development methods are also demonstrated in this section.

    One mixed blessing of casual games is that they have rapidly fallen into several common conventions for better appeal to the mass market. The market for casual games is substantially larger than that of hard-core games. It is flooded with people just beginning to master the use of their personal computers. In some ways this normalization or standardization of games in the industry is helpful to developers, because it clarifies exactly what tasks need to be completed for your game. On the other hand, it can be a real creativity killer, tempting developers to fall into the fold, pressing out an endless array of Tetris® descendents.

    Originally released in 1986, Tetris was created by Alexey Pajitnov, Dmitry Pavlovsky, and Vadim Gerasimov. The trio of Russian computer programmers was fascinated by the burgeoning computer games industry and hatched a plan to create several hit games. Tetris was not the one they expected to flourish, but it quickly demonstrated that elusive power to addict its audience. The game's name is a combination of tetramino (four boxes arranged in varied patterns, see Figure 1.2) and tennis.


    Figure 1.2 Tetramino are the four block combination shapes featured in Tetris.

    In this chapter you will learn how to:

    Design a game that is accessible to a mass audience and that excites players

    Design rules and puzzles for a game that reward players effectively

    Explain the science behind a games challenge/reward model to producers and clients.

    Plan a strategy for hooking your audience in the first few minutes of play

    Design integrated help systems to guide your audience through your game

    Develop reward systems that provide constant reassurance and satisfaction as well as escalating rewards that motivate continued play

    Tease, tempt, and promise bigger and better rewards and features

    Emulate standard industry navigation conventions

    Apply these skills to the development of a game

    Industry analysts have predicted that the worldwide market for casual games will be 1.2-1.5 billion dollars by 2007. Approximately 50% of industry profits come from advertising while players are enjoying the game online at portal sites.

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