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Mephs

Is simplicity the key?

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Hey all, I've just been pondering on the issue of game simplicity. I'm sure most anyone who uses hotmail, or visits the MSN site cannot fail to have noticed the MSN games section. Something about the way they've presented the games on a highly visited website really strikes me as being a recipe for success. A little while back I got myself a book to teach myself java programming for mobile games. It mentioned the fact that mobiles are so wide-spread nowadays, that it has opened up a market that has potential far above and beyond that of PC and console games through sheer weight of numbers of people owning mobiles. So anyhoo... all the games on the MSN site seem very simplistic, albeit very well polished and professional. I have to say that I think this is a very smart move and I can see that if they keep minimum specs low and provide a wide vaiety of fun, but simple games, they are keeping their target audience maximized. Most people I know who own PCs do not own a graphics card with pixel shader capabilities simply because they wouldn't understand what it could do for the games they may play, and until PC manufacturers start bundling pixel shader capable cards as the bare minimum in machines (and perhaps even for a while afterwards) this is probably the way it will be for quite some time. I also notice how complex many of the posts in here get (and it's something I'm guilty of too), especially since I've had to focus on a more simplistic design for my 4E4 entry and I do wonder if perhaps many of us need to get back to basics so to speak... it's certainly given me a refreshed perspective on the games industry! Anyhoo... just thought I'd make comment on those observations... if anyone else wishes to add anything to the conversation please do! Cheers, Steve

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Simplicity can often lead to very succesful games, as long as that element of fun is there. Look at some of the most successful games that are still around today - Tetris, Snake, Tic-Tac-Toe, etc.

A simple game is easy for people to understand, so a larger potential market exists. A simple game won't have the large loading times of other games, and so can often be played quickly during a break at work for example (Solitaire anyone?). A simple game doesn't have a steep learning curve, and so fewer of the people who play it once will be turned off, leading to more people who continue to play.

You also mentioned the technical side of things, and this seems to come into it in a big way as well. While the latest and greatest is often very impressive and we're all quite fond of trying out the latest games that are pushing the technological barrier, it's often those games with lower requirements that we can play in a LAN game with friends whose computers may not be as powerful, and which parents can purchase without fear that thier child's computer may not be able to handle it. These are also the games that people will consider purchasing if they can't really afford to upgrade to the latest hardware.


So yes; I think that simplicity, when used correctly can be a powerful tool.

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As long as any game is fun, it has a chance of being played and enjoyed by lots of people. You mentioned the msn gaming section and I might observe that only a small demographic of game players use that site. I'm sure their are a bunch of older and younger gamers that go there. Also retro games have come back into "style" over the past year.

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Quote:
A little while back I got myself a book to teach myself java programming for mobile games. It mentioned the fact that mobiles are so wide-spread nowadays, that it has opened up a market that has potential far above and beyond that of PC and console games through sheer weight of numbers of people owning mobiles.

just wanna point out this is a flawed assumption

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If you want to become pro then you should polish your games to maximum (graphic, gameplay, sound, controls).

POLISHING is what makes the difference between pro & wannabes. And you learn more.

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