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Scipio3

accessibility

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Scipio3    126
I've been designing a game that is a kind of a space simulator. I've been worrying about whether it would be accessible and easy enough to play to attact a good sized audience. The game has 4 main disciplines: engineering, navigation, science, and tactical. Navigation and tactical require you to know something about physics (mainly just what velocity and accel are and how they can be said to have different independent components-- like if you increase velocity in one direction it adds to the velocity you already have). Engineering requires that you know basic arithmetic and are able to understand how the ship's systems work. The navigator uses vectors to plot the course also. I'd say the physics of how the ship moves is not as complicated as real life on earth (like what's modeled in flight simulators), but it is less familiar since there is no friction. What do people have to say about the accessibility of such a game? -- scipio3

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John H    584
It sounds like average Joe may have a hard time playing it, but it all depends on how complex you plan on making it. Have you thought about possibly marketing it as an education title? Perhaps it could be useful in schools to give children a "fun" way to learn physics? It really depends on the scope of the game and just how deep you'd like to go with it.

What do you personally think about the accessibility of it? Who would you prefer to target as your main audience? Is the game a hobbyist title or something you'd like to make money from?

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Scipio3    126
Personally, I think that if a person can play a game like airwarrior or warbirds successfully, they would probably be able to get into my game. I think people would have a harder time understanding how a barrel roll works than understanding the manuevers in the game I've been designing. Although I know the intended audience would be a niche audience, I've heard that independents are best off business-wise trying to appeal to niches that the big companies don't produce titles for. Do you think that going for a niche audience means it can't be profitiable?

Games like airwarrior require more than just learning, they also require a very, very, large amount of practice; my game wouldn't require as much practice but would still require some learning.

Another thing is that a lot of games out there have players solving physics problems (just like we solve physics problems all the time in real life). My game is different in that it allows a greater degree of precision in performing actions and the world is somewhat unfamiliar (you may have no friction in space and you'd have to learn to manuever the ship with its controls).

An example of one of these physics games that I'm basing mine off of is Super Mario. On the one hand, you could try to calculate how long to depress the A button at a certain point on your path running in a given direction in order to successfully jump onto the platform 100 pixels above you on the screen, (This approach gives a physics problem) another approach is to get a feel for how high mario can jump when running at such-and-such a speed and just use your intuition to try the jump without making explicit calculations. You wouldn't have to sit down and do a math problem to play the game, you just have to adjust your natural physical intuition to the new space environment. You intuitively know how many newtons of force to apply to the ground, and in what direction, for how long a span of time to jump over a rock that is in your path. Basically you know which direction to apply a force with your feet to jump forwards or backwards, and you know that you can't roll a barrel up a steep hill without holding it in place when you're not pushing. The trick of the game is to get an intuition about your ship and the surrounding space that allows you to apply the same type of common sense to solving navigational problems in the game.

I think the physics part of the game would be accessible, but it might be for a niche audience (like me) who is tired of the same stuff over and over again.

Does anybody think this niche audience is a large one?

--Scipio3

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John H    584
I certainly have no idea over the scale of the audience size, but as someone pointed out in another thread, the amount of people playing games these days has increased dramatically. Hopefully that would mean there could potentially be a larger audience for you, but without any definitive market research, it would be hard to tell.

There are a lot of people that are tired with the same games being produced and so you may find that something different is what people want. I'd generally say that people do would different games, or at least, innovation within existing gametypes. The problem is, would they want what your game offers?

Would you play your own game? I'm guessing yes, as you seem to be taking the development seriously. Have you got any working demos that you've shown to close friends or perhaps a few random Joe's? The best way to get an idea for the scale of your audience would be to drum up some interest for your game. Maybe post a demo on GameDev for people to look at? Nothing better than a community of gamers to give you the feedback you'd be looking for.

Quote:
Original post by Scipio3
Games like airwarrior require more than just learning, they also require a very, very, large amount of practice; my game wouldn't require as much practice but would still require some learning.


The trend these days seems to be "pick up and play", so long as the learning curve isn't too steep, it should be fine.

Oh and for what it's worth: I don't believe going for niche markets means you can't make a profit. It will probably mean you won't generate as much revenue as a game aimed at the mass market, but that doesn't mean to say you can't make a profit nor have a substantial audience. If your game is enjoyable and it's well-made, there's no reason why it can't be successful.

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