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The Moldy Crow

Does puzzle/platformer mean anything to you anymore?

15 posts in this topic

With the indie boom in full swing, puzzle/platformers are becoming increasingly more common.

The problem is there's been so much innovation in the genre that the term, much like rogue-like(-like-like-like), is starting to lose meaning.

So much of an indie game's success depends on it's elevator pitch, and a genre is a very smart thing to include in that pitch.

**So plain and simple, what's your gut reaction when you read puzzle/platformer in a description?**

Does it entice you to learn more? Repel you because the market is so flooded with them? Has it lost all meaning entirely?

How does it make you feel? There are no wrong answers.
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Personally I find it to be better than nothing. I'm rather tired of game descriptions that leave me no clue whatsoever what kind of game it is and whether or not I'll like it.

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Well, if it's a 3D puzzle platformer RPG, that's one thing - Zelda, Okami, I like this kind of game.  If it's a 2D puzzle platformer which is not an RPG, that would be more like Lemmings, World of Goo, and those similar games where you have distinct levels and hardly any story.  Those are ok, not my favorite genre but they can be fun.  If it's a horror-anything, I'm not playing it, because I don't like those.  If it's a Sonic-type platformer I'm going to disagree with using "puzzle" as a descriptive term, and I'm not really interested in playing that kind of game.  Or if it's something like Continuity, that's really more of a puzzle minigame in the same group as games like Sokobon; it just happens to be a platformer, but it could be basically the same game if something were substituted for the platforms.

Edited by sunandshadow
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My opinion is there aren't enough platformers, how could they not be significant? Alright, if it's another simulated physics + bouncing game that won't mean anything to me, but if people stopped producing them then that would be significant proof that the human race has evolved radically. But the last time I checked gravity is holding us down, ergo gravity is an antagonist we can recognize and find amusing to defeat.

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Do you guys find it sufficiently descriptive? Like you would need another sentence or two before getting excited about the game?
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Do you guys find it sufficiently descriptive? Like you would need another sentence or two before getting excited about the game?

 

This is an individual preference/opinion. If a person really enjoys puzzle games or platformer games, he or she would automatically be slightly more interested that someone who isn't. It also would depend on how into the genre a person is interested. The extra sentence or two is needed to pull more than that niche group.

 

As for me, I would be interested in it, although the excitement may vary.

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Do you guys find it sufficiently descriptive? Like you would need another sentence or two before getting excited about the game?

 

It's sufficient; it's a description of the primary genre and the mechanical elements that supplement it. It is a platforming game that incorporates puzzle elements in as much that a third person shooter is a shooter game played from a third person perspective. There's a panoply of sub-distinctions between each; you can append more adjectives if the game needs further distiinction from it's compatriots; Quake 3 is a competitive first person arena shooter - you probably know what I'm talking about, but context does not always demand the full distinction.

 

The individual mechanics of puzzle based platformers are not so easy to define into strict categories, but I'd argue that the majority of them are functionally similar from a high-level design perspective and that whilst the puzzle element may differ, it's purpose and objective as an element does not, and as such it does not actually require further definition. It's possible they may broaden of course - the concept of a 'First Person Shooter' genre didn't really emerge until well after Doom.

 

Well, if it's a 3D puzzle platformer RPG, that's one thing - Zelda, Okami, I like this kind of game.  If it's a 2D puzzle platformer which is not an RPG, that would be more like Lemmings, World of Goo, and those similar games where you have distinct levels and hardly any story.  Those are ok, not my favorite genre but they can be fun.  If it's a horror-anything, I'm not playing it, because I don't like those.  If it's a Sonic-type platformer I'm going to disagree with using "puzzle" as a descriptive term, and I'm not really interested in playing that kind of game.  Or if it's something like Continuity, that's really more of a puzzle minigame in the same group as games like Sokobon; it just happens to be a platformer, but it could be basically the same game if something were substituted for the platforms.

 

I would refute a lot of these definitions, though I'm not familiar with all of these games. There are few Zelda games that are characterised by the player needing to traverse from platform to platform (Links Awakening as an example includes very small platforming sections), and there are no role playing elements in these games at all. 'Platforming' and 'Role Playing' are specific terminologies and they wouldn't really apply to these games. Specifically, Zelda is an archetypal action-adventure game which incorporates additional elements of puzzle solving. Lemmings and World of Goo I would also not classify as platformers, though this is certainly more debateable. As there is no challenge being given to an avatar to traverse a given environment (and a lack of direct control), I'd refer to them as puzzle games - more so World of Goo where there are no real elements I could associate with the platforming genre.

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**So plain and simple, what's your gut reaction when you read puzzle/platformer in a description?**

 

It might be any kind of game, i 'd start looking for anything that might say something about the quality of the game.

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@ambershee et al.

Okay so it seems that it can at least catch the eye in laundry list of different genres. What's the next thing you want to know then after reading puzzle platformer? What's the first question you want an answer to?
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I'd want some context - what constitutes the puzzle mechanics? A common archetype (perhaps the most obvious) includes physics based puzzles, but there are also mechanical, spatial or even more abstract logical and lateral thinking problems. You don't have to define it in such concrete terms with words like these (indeed, using it too much may well put off anyone but the most hardcore customer), but you should explain to the potential player what the objective is, what it is that presents the puzzle, and the means which the player has to solve it. An example would be Portal - the player must escape the laboratory through an series of increasingly elaborately designed environments by using the portal gun.

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Had not even considered this issue before.

 

I think it gets tricky to be more specific about the type without sounding annoyingly verbose, but maybe thats just me being self conscious?

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Had not even considered this issue before.

 

I think it gets tricky to be more specific about the type without sounding annoyingly verbose, but maybe thats just me being self conscious?

 

I don't think this is just you. The big battle for me is that I have about a sentence or two of automatic attention from someone when promoting my game. 

 

In that space I have to use language that's engaging and attractive, give and actual impression of what my game is about, and not turn them off with coming off too overcomposed.

 

It's definitely an uphill battle. Reducing any game that has a hope of being original to the space of two 15 word sentences is very tough.

 

If there'e anyone in here with experience marketing games that are completely off the wall mechanically, I'd love to know how you did it.

Edited by The Moldy Crow
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If there is a part of game design that is lacking sorely as far as innovation across all types of games, its in genre naming conventions. Because designers are using old foundations to structure their game design on top of they feel they can use the old description with not a lot of care for what they've done to the original genre. Game design should take from the music industry, in creating a much wider array of genre descriptions. Honestly how many types of Metal are there? I think this should apply to shooters the same way.

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So much of an indie game's success depends on it's elevator pitch, and a genre is a very smart thing to include in that pitch.

**So plain and simple, what's your gut reaction when you read puzzle/platformer in a description?**

Does it entice you to learn more? Repel you because the market is so flooded with them? Has it lost all meaning entirely?

How does it make you feel? There are no wrong answers.

 

me personally, i don't like puzzle platformers. so that in the description would be a deal breaker for me right there.  OTOH, for someone who IS part of your target demographic, "puzzle platformer"  should have the exact opposite effect, and cause them to read on.

 

back in the day, you used to get something like 100 characters to describe your downloadable file. excellent practice in word smithing to get that killer file description. 

 

the indie mobile market today is sort of like the indie PC market ~30 years ago, "all just a little bit of history repeating" - (propellerheads - decksanddrumsandrockandroll).

 

that 4 sentence description will be some of the most important copy you write for the project.  

 

i credit much of my initial success (top 10 DL on AOL , 10,000+ copies the first week) to the file description used, which highlighted the ground breaking aspects of the game. The game in question was SIMTrek/SIMSpace  - the world's first Star Trek flight simulator.

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Considering I'm working on a puzzle/platformer, I would have to say "yes". But I'm also a fan of the genre, so that helps. But I tend to not discount any game based upon genre alone. I don't really like strategy games, but I love Civilization V and Advance Wars. On the other hand, I love platformers, but I didn't really get into FEZ. I didn't dislike it, I actually thought it was a very clever concept; it just didn't really grab me for some reason.

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Puzzle/platformer is just a part of the content description, as well as the art-style description. I would consider it more a category tag then a pitch statement. 

 

The pitch statement should reflect the qualitative emotions which you get from playing the game ("awsome", "betterest", "feature-rich" and "cool" does not count). Try "dark", "fearless", "gloomy", "peachy" (I'm not very good at this) or something else that has a more distinct emotion bound to it. Asking players how they feel about the game when they play it could be a way to go. 

 

If you want something to read, try looking for the web-buzzword SEO (search engine optimization) and how it works with meta-tags. They are picked very carefully to make the site unique and pop up high in search ranks. 

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