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Gorbstein

Wanted: feedback on multiplayer ideas and target platform

5 posts in this topic

I'm an experienced developer (coder,artist) who has collaborated on a number of small free games and a few personal projects. I am hoping to branch out on a solo project, and if possible I would like to start making a bit of money from it. As an 'unknown' dev I'm really just testing the water rather than looking for a solid income stream though. I have a day job that pays well and allows me the free time to do all this stuff.

The concept is for a casual top-down shooter with a short but sweet single player campaign, but with the emphasis on the multiplayer aspect. The action is intended to be fast-paced and with plenty of depth, but very, very simple to get into. I am looking at a strong use of humour, puzzle/problem solving, and .. well the rest of it is really the 'secret sauce' that I think will make it all work.

With the multiplayer aspect I intend to offer an option between a) collaborative team-based ie: players facing a puzzle / level / AI opponent, and b) team vs team duel (ie: 1 team defending an objective, the other attempting to infiltrate / destroy etc).

My 'free preview' would offer a completely free short but sweet single player campaign (with tutorial), with access to the multiplayer option in a limited capacity (ie: a restricted number of player classses / types, and no stat save).

Unlocking the game by purchasing a login would offer extra classes for the multiplayer, saving of stats, ability to skin the player avatars, plus extra single player levels.

I have developed a prototype in C++/Win that I've distributed to a test group and some contacts, and feedback has been pretty awesome.

I'd like feedback on a few things here:

Free/paid content balance: How does my idea sound? Would a strong single player campaign that hooked you make you want to purchase more levels? If you enjoyed the multiplayer, would you pay for more involved multiplayer access (ie: playing as a different class, saving your stats, etc)?

Target audience:
Does this sound a good game idea for a casual gamer audience? Is there a market for casual multiplayer games?

Target platform :
I read everywhere that the download to disk market is not so strong any more, and I read elsewhere that this is not true. Opinions?

Would this work as a mobile game, or are mobile players not so interested in realtime multiplayer? I am also concerned about connection latency of the mobile signal, and control methods on mobile devices, does anyone have experience of how well these work?

I am thinking of aiming for a browser game (pop in the url, log in, play). This gives me the advantage of always offering the latest code (no version conflicts), with also the option of promoting any other titles I create in the future via, for example, a quick splash screen. Opinions?

Getting more specific, I am torn between unity (forces a user download, but faster dev time), and Java (installed most places, but lower level and possibly slower?).

Pricing structure : I'm thinking maybe only a couple of dollars/pounds to purchase a login for life that unlocks the features.

Feedback on any of this would be very helpful to an experienced coder but novice businessman!

D
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Have you considered HTML5? Since you want a webhosted game I definitely suggest looking into it. The tech is getting really advanced, really fast, and simple games are allready possible to make.

The biggest advantage is that there is no download. On the other hand you will have to reconsider the payment method, but there are advantages with microtransactions too, instead of getting payed once for the game you charge for every new major weapon/armor/grenade you put into the game.
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[quote name='Gorbstein' timestamp='1332800201' post='4925471']
I'd like feedback on a few things here:[/quote]

Just a few, eh? ;D
I'm just going to go ahead and answer each of your questions with my opinions.
No doubt there will be more that could be said, so by all means, ask more questions if you want more opinions ;).

[quote]Free/paid content balance: How does my idea sound? Would a strong single player campaign that hooked you make you want to purchase more levels? If you enjoyed the multiplayer, would you pay for more involved multiplayer access (ie: playing as a different class, saving your stats, etc)?[/quote]

You idea sounds good.
No, it would not. I don't think I'd have interest in unlocking more singleplayer. The appeal of this game [i]style [/i]is multiplayer.
I would not. Other people would. A lot of other people would.

[b][quote][/b]Target audience:
Does this sound a good game idea for a casual gamer audience? Is there a market for casual multiplayer games?[/quote]

Casual gamers love puzzles, they don't like competitive gunfights. I'm confused over the balance you want between puzzles, and fighting. I don't think you can have both. Your idea on classes, new weapons, etc. appeals to a more hardcore-gamer focused shooter.
Yes. There is a market for both the "Casual Multiplayer Top-Down Puzzler" AND the "Hardcore Multiplayer Top-Down Shooter". They are not the same market. Trying to cross-over would not be succesful.

[quote]Target platform :
I read everywhere that the download to disk market is not so strong any more, and I read elsewhere that this is not true. Opinions?

Would this work as a mobile game, or are mobile players not so interested in realtime multiplayer? I am also concerned about connection latency of the mobile signal, and control methods on mobile devices, does anyone have experience of how well these work?

I am thinking of aiming for a browser game (pop in the url, log in, play). This gives me the advantage of always offering the latest code (no version conflicts), with also the option of promoting any other titles I create in the future via, for example, a quick splash screen. Opinions?[/quote]

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeee. Go browser-based. Port to mobiles at a later date, if you fancy it. I say this mainly because you seem enthused by the idea of browser-based games. The style of game you're talking about would suit it very well.

[quote]Getting more specific, I am torn between unity (forces a user download, but faster dev time), and Java (installed most places, but lower level and possibly slower?).[/quote]

Eh. Not my area of expertise. I'm not a fan of Unity, but that's just me. Hustlerinc's idea of HTML5 seems legit; I've heard a lot of people talking good things about it. At the very least, check it out.

[quote]Pricing structure : I'm thinking maybe only a couple of dollars/pounds to purchase a login for life that unlocks the features.[/quote]

Sure, $5 seems fine to me. If we're saying, One class with 2 variable weapons for free, and 4 classes with up to 20 weapons paid. I like that model.
Hustlerinc's suggestion of micro-transactions is going to earn you more money though. A lot more. If each class costs 500 Out-Of-Game credits, and each weapon could be bought with 500 In-Game, or 100 Out-Of-Game, and 100 Out-Of-Game costs $1... build your own model, but it's making serious amounts of money for other games.
As a designer/player hybrid, I prefer the first option. Feels less of a rip-off / sell-out. But don't be fooled by people who share my opinion. We'd all stick micro-transactions in our own games in a flash.


Hope to have helped,

Wyrm.
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[quote name='hustlerinc' timestamp='1332803552' post='4925481']
Have you considered HTML5? Since you want a webhosted game I definitely suggest looking into it. The tech is getting really advanced, really fast, and simple games are allready possible to make.[/quote]

The thought never crossed my mind, but I am looking into it so thanks for the pointer.

[quote]The biggest advantage is that there is no download. On the other hand you will have to reconsider the payment method, but there are advantages with microtransactions too, instead of getting payed once for the game you charge for every new major weapon/armor/grenade you put into the game.
[/quote]

Another good point about microtransactions. My main fear about adding new weapons would be unbalancing the multiplayer side; those who'd paid full whack would have an advantage, putting off new players. I hoped to delicately balance the class system so that, even though one class may approach things in a different way (stealth or speed vs brute force) the two classes would be closely balanced in terms of pure capability. But then I could still have a microtransaction to add in each new balanced class. (Play as an "x class" for $y).

Cheers.
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[quote name='Wyrmslayer' timestamp='1332837215' post='4925582']
Just a few, eh? ;D [/quote]

You don't ask, you don't get :-)

Thanks for all your responses.

[quote]
Casual gamers love puzzles, they don't like competitive gunfights. I'm confused over the balance you want between puzzles, and fighting.
[/quote]

I'm maybe confusing myself with the terminology. Basically, I'm looking at something that is simple and quick-fix enough for players to log into for half an hour for a quick few levels, but has enough of a 'hook' and enough variety to keep the more hardcore amused over a longer multiplayer campaign.

I love games like Enemy Territory for example, but to really get into I find I have to play a full campaign which can last hours.

I'm also trying to avoid a complicated class/weapon/stats system that takes hours of play to get into.

[quote]
Sure, $5 seems fine to me. If we're saying, One class with 2 variable weapons for free, and 4 classes with up to 20 weapons paid. I like that model.
Hustlerinc's suggestion of micro-transactions is going to earn you more money though. A lot more. If each class costs 500 Out-Of-Game credits, and each weapon could be bought with 500 In-Game, or 100 Out-Of-Game, and 100 Out-Of-Game costs $1... build your own model, but it's making serious amounts of money for other games.
As a designer/player hybrid, I prefer the first option. Feels less of a rip-off / sell-out. But don't be fooled by people who share my opinion. We'd all stick micro-transactions in our own games in a flash.[/quote]

Haha, I know what you mean about the sell out feeling. Personally it gets my back up a little when I sense an attempt to quitely and subtly part me with my money, especially when they've got you in a corner. But I do like the idea of 'let's try [i]this[/i] class out and see how it changes the game, it doesn't cost much extra'.

[quote]
Hope to have helped,
[/quote]

Thanks for the opinions, I have things to think about now.
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Just my personal taste about playing games:

[quote name='Gorbstein' timestamp='1332800201' post='4925471']
Free/paid content balance: How does my idea sound? Would a strong single player campaign that hooked you make you want to purchase more levels? If you enjoyed the multiplayer, would you pay for more involved multiplayer access (ie: playing as a different class, saving your stats, etc)?
[/quote]
I always skip single-player content when playing a multiplayer game, so no cash for additional single player content. On the other hand, I buy add-ons to get my hands on more conent (maps, weapons etc.).


[quote name='Gorbstein' timestamp='1332800201' post='4925471']
Target audience:
Does this sound a good game idea for a casual gamer audience? Is there a market for casual multiplayer games?
[/quote]
Just my two cents: casual games (=mouse pusher) often don't have the time/skill to practise fast paced games. So, you should consider if the overall pace of your game really targets the casual gamer audience.

[quote name='Gorbstein' timestamp='1332800201' post='4925471']
Target platform :
I read everywhere that the download to disk market is not so strong any more, and I read elsewhere that this is not true. Opinions?
[/quote]
The biggest issue for any indie dev is to get enough awareness. I think, that plattforms like steam are good for indie developers, atleast better than any zynga controlled market.

[quote name='Gorbstein' timestamp='1332800201' post='4925471']
Pricing structure : I'm thinking maybe only a couple of dollars/pounds to purchase a login for life that unlocks the features.
[/quote]
IMHO I would not restrict the features (gameplay wise), you need all the awereness you can get at the beginning. Instead try to give the gamers everything that is fun and restrict the content, i.e. only the first level. Once a gamer is hooked up, he gets bored by the level and wants to test his skills on other maps (=> battlefield & wake island).
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