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What makes these games so successful?

24 posts in this topic

I've seen Minecraft rake it in, but what I don't get 100% is why is it that Meat Boy and

Braid are so successful.  Both are adventure games, granted they have some neat

game mechanics, but this isn't a terribly new concept.  So why are they so well received?

 

I'm not trying to be negative in any way.  If anything, I think that this is great.  However,

I'd like to know the steps (the process or the system, as in the approach) that they

used in order to come up with such a great game idea.

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I've seen Minecraft rake it in, but what I don't get 100% is why is it that Meat Boy and

Braid are so successful.  Both are adventure games, granted they have some neat

game mechanics, but this isn't a terribly new concept.  So why are they so well received?

 

I'm not trying to be negative in any way.  If anything, I think that this is great.  However,

I'd like to know the steps (the process or the system, as in the approach) that they

used in order to come up with such a great game idea.

I think there was a good writeup on the addictive play in super meat boy on gamasutra. Braid is successful because it has a lot of cool gameplay mechanics for the most part; as a lot of people totally ignored the story.

 

edit: I'm almost the opposite of you in that I don't understand why people like minecraft so much.

Edited by way2lazy2care
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I've seen Minecraft rake it in, but what I don't get 100% is why is it that Meat Boy and

Braid are so successful.  Both are adventure games, granted they have some neat

game mechanics, but this isn't a terribly new concept.  So why are they so well received?

 

I'm not trying to be negative in any way.  If anything, I think that this is great.  However,

I'd like to know the steps (the process or the system, as in the approach) that they

used in order to come up with such a great game idea.

I think there was a good writeup on the addictive play in super meat boy on gamasutra. Braid is successful because it has a lot of cool gameplay mechanics for the most part; as a lot of people totally ignored the story.

 

edit: I'm almost the opposite of you in that I don't understand why people like minecraft so much.

It's the building of different things that -- imo -- makes Minecraft so popular.  I can

definitely see the appeal.  The same goes for Terraria.  It's like, you have your

adventures and build stuff.  The type of world that many would like to live in, but for

one reason or another can't.

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Super Meat Boy isn't an adventure game at all.  It is a down and dirty platform game that has increasing levels of difficulty.  The reason I believe it has done so well is because a good platform game is really hard to come by today and this game offers a challenge that most other games do not.

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I've seen Minecraft rake it in, but what I don't get 100% is why is it that Meat Boy and

Braid are so successful.  Both are adventure games, granted they have some neat

game mechanics, but this isn't a terribly new concept.  So why are they so well received?

 

I'm not trying to be negative in any way.  If anything, I think that this is great.  However,

I'd like to know the steps (the process or the system, as in the approach) that they

used in order to come up with such a great game idea.

I think there was a good writeup on the addictive play in super meat boy on gamasutra. Braid is successful because it has a lot of cool gameplay mechanics for the most part; as a lot of people totally ignored the story.

 

edit: I'm almost the opposite of you in that I don't understand why people like minecraft so much.

It's the building of different things that -- imo -- makes Minecraft so popular.  I can

definitely see the appeal.  The same goes for Terraria.  It's like, you have your

adventures and build stuff.  The type of world that many would like to live in, but for

one reason or another can't.

 

Yep, at least half the fun I had playing both Terraria and Minecraft was showing off screenshots and videos to friends.

Then 40% was building unnecessarily complex stuff to show, and 10% was exploring the world.

 

But I think its impossible to look at the gameplay of any of these titles (including braid etc) and expect to find some "magic formula" or "process".

 

You need to look at it from a wider perspective, and look at who made it, and what they did to reach their audience, and potential audience.

 

I think most of the success is about timing (It's easy to be either too early, or too late) and getting good traction in media and blogs.

What it was that made people interested in writing about them could be discussed in great length, but a lot of it I think is very hard to repeat since it was so dependant on timing, situation and the personal history of the people involved.

And a healthy portion of luck.

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Super Meat Boy isn't an adventure game at all.  It is a down and dirty platform game that has increasing levels of difficulty.  The reason I believe it has done so well is because a good platform game is really hard to come by today and this game offers a challenge that most other games do not.

Sorry, but what do you mean by a "good platform game"?  One that work really

well on a console, making it easy to play while being fun at the same time?

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But I think its impossible to look at the gameplay of any of these titles (including braid etc) and expect to find some "magic formula" or "process".

 

You need to look at it from a wider perspective, and look at who made it, and what they did to reach their audience, and potential audience.

 

I think most of the success is about timing (It's easy to be either too early, or too late) and getting good traction in media and blogs.

What it was that made people interested in writing about them could be discussed in great length, but a lot of it I think is very hard to repeat since it was so dependant on timing, situation and the personal history of the people involved.

And a healthy portion of luck.

:)

 

Yeah, I kinda want that formula :) .  I know, there is no function(var1, var2, var3) => successful game!

 

But honestly, the reason for starting this thread, I really would like to know about the

opinions of others as to why these games have been so successful.  I watched the

Indie game move, that was good and had a lot of personal interviews.

 

I used to play more often (not as much free time now).  Ultimately, if I put in the correct

effort and with a bit of luck and after a good deal of patience, I'd like to make my own

game and escape my corporate rat-race (no, I can do without the Aston Martin, I just

want my time back).

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Sorry, but what do you mean by a "good platform game"?  One that work really
well on a console, making it easy to play while being fun at the same time?

 

I think one of the big allures of SMB is not that it is easy to play, but that it is really hard to play.

But hard in the right way.

Meaning that with practice, you quickly get a return, and feel that you get better and better.

It's a game with an unusual level of frustration while you play.

This level of frustration actually spawned a movement of its own, with people posting videos of people playing SMB and cussing.

That caused more people to know about the game, and get interested in what is this "impossible" game, and can I beat it?

Also minecraft had this factor, and also Terraria. (but not because of frustration, you wanted to share what you built)

 

So that's one thing you can look at. How to make your players want to share their experience? (on youtube, blogs, etc) And how to make non-players find this shared experience interesting?

 

There are no easy answers there.

Edited by Olof Hedman
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But honestly, the reason for starting this thread, I really would like to know about the
opinions of others as to why these games have been so successful. I watched the
Indie game move, that was good and had a lot of personal interviews.

As you may have seen on Indie Game: The Movie, those games (Braid, Super Meat Boy) were the Vanguard of indie development.

They went through some hard stuff to achieve the polished game without much support from anyone else. They also had to talk to hundreds of people begging them to rate their game so that others could see it.

 

Today, just a couple years later, it is much easier to enter this industry and there are several platforms out there that will do the advertising/marketing for you.

So, adventure-platform-games are super trivial today. But back on the day SMB launched, they were pretty amazing.

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Super Meat Boy isn't an adventure game at all.  It is a down and dirty platform game that has increasing levels of difficulty.  The reason I believe it has done so well is because a good platform game is really hard to come by today and this game offers a challenge that most other games do not.

Sorry, but what do you mean by a "good platform game"?  One that work really

well on a console, making it easy to play while being fun at the same time?

It has very high quality game play, sound, ambiance, replay value, and scaling difficulty.  Not a lot of quality 2d platform games get developed in this day and age; this game was an absolute treat for someone like me.

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Sorry, but what do you mean by a "good platform game"?  One that work really
well on a console, making it easy to play while being fun at the same time?

 

I think one of the big allures of SMB is not that it is easy to play, but that it is really hard to play.

But hard in the right way.

Meaning that with practice, you quickly get a return, and feel that you get better and better.

It's a game with an unusual level of frustration while you play.

This level of frustration actually spawned a movement of its own, with people posting videos of people playing SMB and cussing.

That caused more people to know about the game, and get interested in what is this "impossible" game, and can I beat it?

Also minecraft had this factor, and also Terraria. (but not because of frustration, you wanted to share what you built)

 

So that's one thing you can look at. How to make your players want to share their experience? (on youtube, blogs, etc) And how to make non-players find this shared experience interesting?

 

There are no easy answers there.

No there aren't.  I agree with the social element that you pointed out.  That's

definitely how things are progressing.

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But honestly, the reason for starting this thread, I really would like to know about the
opinions of others as to why these games have been so successful. I watched the
Indie game move, that was good and had a lot of personal interviews.

As you may have seen on Indie Game: The Movie, those games (Braid, Super Meat Boy) were the Vanguard of indie development.

They went through some hard stuff to achieve the polished game without much support from anyone else. They also had to talk to hundreds of people begging them to rate their game so that others could see it.

 

Today, just a couple years later, it is much easier to enter this industry and there are several platforms out there that will do the advertising/marketing for you.

So, adventure-platform-games are super trivial today. But back on the day SMB launched, they were pretty amazing.

Oh, no doubt.

 

People want stuff that's slightly different from the same old, but not something

that's so alien that they either have no idea how to "get it" or can't relate to it

in any other way.

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Good games are better than cutting-edge games. We've known this for a long time. We just pretend not to. Edited by Khatharr
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I think the only reason why Super Meat Boy and Braid (and a lot of other indie games) were so successful is the hype.  They had several thousand people wanting to know what was going on, twitter followers, facebook friends, youtube comments.

They are both very good games but there are tons of other indie games that get released every day (some of them better than Braid or SMB) but, they just don't get the critical mass behind them to reach the success.
You just only need to watch Indie Game: the movie to realize that not only are Johnathan Blow and the guys behind SMB and Fez really good games designers but, they are also very charasmatic individuals and they also spend just as much time reading and trying to respond to every single post or tweet about them.  They also seem to be very open to critisism for example tweeking their design in response to fans requests.
 

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So why are they so well received?

Because they are well made and they have charm, charisma, their own identity, and something to say. Mechanics and polish is always secondary too. Grand Theft Auto, Skyrim, Black Ops, etc are all broken down pieces of shit programming and design wise.

90% of the games that come out are made by people who don't get that. Movies and music too. People always clone the mechanics, and are completely clueless on the things that matter.

So many people are making 'better' Minecraft. Mobile is flooded with them. It's always all about the tech though. They improve one tiny bit of the tech and think that somehow they've topped Minecraft. And no one cares.

It's not about the tech, it's about the experience.

That's why no one gives a shit about that really boring, generic, high end FPS that came out recently.
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I've seen Minecraft rake it in, but what I don't get 100% is why is it that Meat Boy and

Braid are so successful.  Both are adventure games, granted they have some neat

game mechanics, but this isn't a terribly new concept.  So why are they so well received?

 

I'm not trying to be negative in any way.  If anything, I think that this is great.  However,

I'd like to know the steps (the process or the system, as in the approach) that they

used in order to come up with such a great game idea.

I think there was a good writeup on the addictive play in super meat boy on gamasutra. Braid is successful because it has a lot of cool gameplay mechanics for the most part; as a lot of people totally ignored the story.

 

edit: I'm almost the opposite of you in that I don't understand why people like minecraft so much.

It's the building of different things that -- imo -- makes Minecraft so popular.  I can

definitely see the appeal.  The same goes for Terraria.  It's like, you have your

adventures and build stuff.  The type of world that many would like to live in, but for

one reason or another can't.

I guess the thing that confuses me about it is that it's not that great for building things. It's essentially a grinding game that lets you play with legos if you're willing to grind for hours.

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Because everyone's heard of Minecraft (and things like Angry Birds even more so), even if they don't actively seek out obscure games. In short - marketing (and perhaps some simple luck).

I agree with:

I think most of the success is about timing (It's easy to be either too early, or too late) and getting good traction in media and blogs.

What it was that made people interested in writing about them could be discussed in great length, but a lot of it I think is very hard to repeat since it was so dependant on timing, situation and the personal history of the people involved.

And a healthy portion of luck.

Often with these things, people analyse the game itself, but this misses a point in that these games have huge advantages because everyone knows them, and they get loads of free coverage. Go to Google Play and see Angry Birds plastered over the "featured" or whatever - what hope does a new game have, even if it's better, when lost in the noice? The real challenge is how to get to that stage in the first place, and writing a game is just part of it.

For a non-game example - if you went back in time and created Facebook first, would you now be in the position that Facebook is now? I'd argue there's a good chance you wouldn't be, even if your implementation was identical.

A non-computer example would be 50 Shades of Grey - of course it's successful with all the publicity it gets! But some people talk as if no one even thought to write an online book of that nature, when the reality is there's plenty of it.

In general, there's a large amount of content being produced by people, but for every success story, there's lots more you never hear about it, even though some of it might be as good.
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PS - an extreme example of this would be the "Million Dollar Homepage" (or something like that) - a completely mad idea of a web page that consists only of adverts, sold at an extortionate price of $1 or £1 per pixel. But it got vast amounts of coverage in the media, that made it worth that price. And you had people going "What a brilliant idea" - well, I'd get a million dollars of advertising if I had my site covered in the mainstream media.

Perhaps he did have the idea that if he thought of a scheme completely mad, the media would cover it simply because it would mad, ironically making it viable. Or perhaps he was clueless about actual online advertising rates, and then got lucky. But the real story is not the idea, but how it got to the media in the first place - every so often, the media will cover what should be complete non-stories, and it's not clear why they pick one over another. It certainly isn't because one person was first with the idea to try.

(Another example would be a BBC story I once saw on "Purity Ring App On Your Iphone" - that's right, an advert for an application that did nothing other than display an image, masquerading as "news" - whilst the BBC seem to think anything with "On Your Iphone" counts as news, in general there have of course been millions of mobile applications, before and after, and in every other case, they'd ignore you if you asked them to do a story.)

Why did they pick one story and not another? Did he get lucky with say, a relative in the local press? Or relatives with money/businesses that decided to make the initial payments for the high priced adverts? Is it the difference between having friends/relatives who'll tell other people about your idea, versus those that go "That's nice" and then not tell others? Did it help that he was IIRC a teenager? (Though, I'm sure almost everyone must have had get rich quick ideas as a child, that were ignored.)
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... insightful stuff ...

 

I wish this thread was not in the Lounge, so I could +1 both of those posts, couldn't agree more.

 

Also, I think it's easy to think "oh marketing... that means I need to buy lots of ads all over the place right?", but that is both a very expensive way, and not really doing that much.

 

Marketing is so much more then that. Basically it's every time you ever talk about your game to anyone else. And every time anyone else is talking about your game. (hopefully in a positive way)

 

For our game Touchgrind BMX, we actually won 100k euro in TV ads on a german television channel.

Didn't notice even the slightest bump in sales...

 

It's much more efficient to get people to talk about it, and get exited about showing it to their friends. 

To help our players do that, we added the possibility to upload replays to youtube.

We had thousands of them uploaded within days of launch, and I do not doubt it significantly contributed to the success of that game.

 

Another way, often used by Indie devs, is to get a following on forums, and even set up your own forum just to enable your fans to talk about the game.

It both helps to market it, and provides valuable input, and a horde of unpaid testers :) (of course, the quality is lower then payed testers, but the numbers of them can be really helpful)

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So why are they so well received?

 

Memetics, timing, inertia. These games didn't have multi million $ advertising campaigns. They spread mostly by word of mouth which can be way more effective because of the level of trust that you assign to those that you actively choose to listen to. I remember the first time I heard about minecraft was in a totally unrelated call of duty gamplay video on youtube. It was a big channel and the video had like a million views. The guy was just commenting his game and on the side talked about how he had fun with this indie game Minecraft. So I checked it out and bought a beta key. I wonder how many more of the viewers did exactly this.

 

Now minecraft has developed into its own cultural meme. I believe every gamer has heard about it by now. There are minecraft jokes, image macros, ripoffs all over the internet.

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... insightful stuff ...

 

 

I wish this thread was not in the Lounge, so I could +1 both of those posts, couldn't agree more.

 

Also, I think it's easy to think "oh marketing... that means I need to buy lots of ads all over the place right?", but that is both a very expensive way, and not really doing that much.

 

Marketing is so much more then that. Basically it's every time you ever talk about your game to anyone else. And every time anyone else is talking about your game. (hopefully in a positive way)

 

For our game Touchgrind BMX, we actually won 100k euro in TV ads on a german television channel.

Didn't notice even the slightest bump in sales...

 

It's much more efficient to get people to talk about it, and get exited about showing it to their friends. 

To help our players do that, we added the possibility to upload replays to youtube.

We had thousands of them uploaded within days of launch, and I do not doubt it significantly contributed to the success of that game.

 

Another way, often used by Indie devs, is to get a following on forums, and even set up your own forum just to enable your fans to talk about the game.

It both helps to market it, and provides valuable input, and a horde of unpaid testers smile.png (of course, the quality is lower then payed testers, but the numbers of them can be really helpful)

Love this comment.  Thanks for sharing what you've done with your game!

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So why are they so well received?

 

Memetics, timing, inertia. These games didn't have multi million $ advertising campaigns. They spread mostly by word of mouth which can be way more effective because of the level of trust that you assign to those that you actively choose to listen to. I remember the first time I heard about minecraft was in a totally unrelated call of duty gamplay video on youtube. It was a big channel and the video had like a million views. The guy was just commenting his game and on the side talked about how he had fun with this indie game Minecraft. So I checked it out and bought a beta key. I wonder how many more of the viewers did exactly this.

 

Now minecraft has developed into its own cultural meme. I believe every gamer has heard about it by now. There are minecraft jokes, image macros, ripoffs all over the internet.

Yes.  That is true.  I don't have a rich uncle that's about to give me millions, and oh,

he's also not going to live that long :) .  It's more like starting that original movement

and have people want to be part of it.

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I never played Meat Boy nor Minecraft, but I did play Braid, liked it, and beat it.  I heard of Braid from a colleague of mine back then, who went to school with one of the guys who made Braid.  I had low expectations of Braid.  Like really low, especially looking at how it's almost another Super Mario clone with jumping things on top of monsters to kill them.  First thought that came to me was some guys just been lucky making a super mario clone that's actually successful.

 

I bought it when it was on sale on Steam ($5? $6?), and played a couple of levels.    One thing that pleased me was the art.  It's not pixel art, it's not uber-hdr-pixel-pushing-graphics like any other games.  It's classical paintings.  The whole game is hand-drawn by the artist. They almost look like canvas paintings.  Being someone who can appreciate art, I gave this game cool points for doing that.

 

Then came the big wow from me when it actually uses time as part of the mechanic.  I'm not talking about using time in the story like in LoZ:OoT, but you actually moved backward in your game, retracing all the things you did in the game, and all the enemies you killed came back to life.  I thought that whole thing was beyond cool.

 

So I liked Braid, and those two reasons deserve my praises.  The developers had rightfully earned that success.  If Braid had not been as successful as it is, I would probably be pissed at gaming community for overlooking this game.

 

Angry Birds, however, is beyond my grasp why that game got so many attention.  Nothing is special about that game other than cutesy-looking birds.  Angry Birds in Space?  Angry Birds Star Wars?  Really?  It's an overdone franchise that needs to die, but people keep feeding it money.

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I never played Meat Boy nor Minecraft, but I did play Braid, liked it, and beat it.  I heard of Braid from a colleague of mine back then, who went to school with one of the guys who made Braid.  I had low expectations of Braid.  Like really low, especially looking at how it's almost another Super Mario clone with jumping things on top of monsters to kill them.  First thought that came to me was some guys just been lucky making a super mario clone that's actually successful.

 

I bought it when it was on sale on Steam ($5? $6?), and played a couple of levels.    One thing that pleased me was the art.  It's not pixel art, it's not uber-hdr-pixel-pushing-graphics like any other games.  It's classical paintings.  The whole game is hand-drawn by the artist. They almost look like canvas paintings.  Being someone who can appreciate art, I gave this game cool points for doing that.

 

Then came the big wow from me when it actually uses time as part of the mechanic.  I'm not talking about using time in the story like in LoZ:OoT, but you actually moved backward in your game, retracing all the things you did in the game, and all the enemies you killed came back to life.  I thought that whole thing was beyond cool.

 

So I liked Braid, and those two reasons deserve my praises.  The developers had rightfully earned that success.  If Braid had not been as successful as it is, I would probably be pissed at gaming community for overlooking this game.

 

Angry Birds, however, is beyond my grasp why that game got so many attention.  Nothing is special about that game other than cutesy-looking birds.  Angry Birds in Space?  Angry Birds Star Wars?  Really?  It's an overdone franchise that needs to die, but people keep feeding it money.

AB is easy to play and even a 2 year old can do it.  It's a good time-killer and

excels on the mobile platform.

 

As for the different spin-offs, well, that's not surprising, Hollywood does this to

any successful movie out there :) .

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I think what made Minecraft successful is the fact that you do your own adventure : not a main quest with a lot side quests, not some random main quests selected at the beginning, but your very own adventure. And also because the style of minecraft was very iconic and special (with its cubes, monsters, items ...) and its possibilities (craft).

 

Before the adventure mode, Minecraft was really really bad for me. I tested it once and I was bored in less than 5 min. There was nothing to do. But the adventure mode changes everything (for my point of view at least).

 

Of course there is something more subtle in all this at it has been said by Daaark.

Edited by Rakilonn
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