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Lionel Pixel

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About Lionel Pixel

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  1. Lionel Pixel

    Branching gameplay and storyline

      The fact is, at the beginning my idea of this branching storylines thing came to my mind because i believed that "the more agency the player has , the better in any case". But i was wrong. Indeed i watched a video by Extra Credits:   where they explain that a lot of choice is not needed in every game and in every scenario within a game, it depends on the game and scenario. There are cases where choice would give benefits to the gameplay experience, others where it can be useless , but still expensive to develop. The question they say you have to ask yourself is "Does my game always give enough choice to make players believe their actions matter?", considering the type of game , the particular situations within the game. The problem is answering this question, learning how to design/develop a game with the best possible agency/interactivity for a particular in-game situation , with practical examples. If you can point me at some books or resources explaining that, i would appreciate.      
  2. Lionel Pixel

    Branching gameplay and storyline

      I'll check out The Longest Journey, thanks.   About "key words, and item exchange", what do you mean?  And modular story? Any examples ?
  3. Hi, i was reading about interactive storylines and emergent gameplay in videogames, which i think is something desiderable because after all we're talking about videogames and not movies/books, so the player is expected to have an active part in this experience, not passive like movies, by definition of game. So , the more freedom the player has in changing the game world and story , the better, despite such a game design may cost a lot nowadays, but i wish it to be the future trend. It is better when the player is able to find his own solutions to the problems presented by the game, when the puzzles/problems in the game offer choice on the number of possible solutions to them, and the progress and storyline (if any) should branch on a different path based on how he solved each problem, and on what actions he made. And i don't think multiple endings of the game are required, a single ending is already good if the player has many ways of getting to it.   Now i want to ask you all , are there good titles that satisfy this request? So that i can check them out for fun&inspiration.   From what i've read, the following  categories of games may satisfy the requisites above, but i have some arguments to share with you and i would like you to comment on my considerations.       ----- Visual novels ----- They say that the only games that offer, at the same time, good AND interactive/branching storylines so far seem to be visual novels, like Shadow Of Destiny (PS2/XBox/PC/PSP). The big problem with these ones is that they explicitly require you to see all/most of the multiple endings to actually understand the story, as each of the story path is just a piece of the story which doesn't make sense by itself.  So it is like the game has a single story at the end of the day, no? The designers just used this trick to lenghten the time to finish the game, because in each play there are some scenarios common to multiple story paths.   Usually, visual novels present puzzles to solve with multiple solutions, and the story will evolve in a different way based on which solution you find among the possible ones. And that would make sense for a game, it actually means that the player has choice. BUT if you, designer, force me to re-play from the start many times to find ALL the solutions for each puzzle, in order to finish the game, then there is not a real choice. It is like each puzzle actually has a single solution equal to the sum of all of its solutions, because i am required to replay the game to find all of them, right? (not sure if i explained it clearly ) . So the only real choice left in visual novels is a very basic nonlinearity, that is the ability to walk through the different story pieces in the order i wish, but hey... nothing new here, since even the old 8bit/16bit games had the choice for playing the levels in any order, ex. Super Mario games, Bumpy (MS-DOS), etc. ----------------------------------------------------       ----- Open-ended games -----   Open-ended , as far as i know, means all of those games without a main objective , so endless. Like Sim City or Dwarf Fortress, right? Or even Tetris if you play in survival mode just for the biggest score. This type of games are designed specifically to have a lot of emergent gameplay, and possibly to let players build their own stories. BUT one moment, the lack of a main goal is in contrast with a golden rule for games: when the player does not know why he's playing, does not know what is he supposed to do, he gets bored, he lacks play motivation because there is not a real challenge presented to him. These games are like Lego for me, and i get bored too quickly, i don't know about you. I've read somewhere that for these games actually the players are supposed to define their own main goal as well, but i can't think of some actually good/fun examples of it. My biggest score example in Tetris, that i pointed out above, is a player-defined goal, but it's boring, no? I need a  challenge which is more... i don't know how to say, maybe "intelligent", or elaborate.   And about the storyline here.. well i think you already know that a story generated from emergent play usually isn't compelling. Nowadays the so-called procedural narrative is not so effective, compared to a good human story writer.   -------------------------------------------------------------------------         About other games i've heard of in this context.., what about Fallout 3/4 ? What about Mass Effect series? Deus Ex 1 ? Alpha Protocol  ? Before buying them i am curious to know if they have a gameplay with both actual choice, good storylines and an interesting main goal/challenge, in other words if they are or not the state-of-the-art when it comes to interactivity.   p.s. About Fallout, i am skeptical after reading here: http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/220-rpgs-everything-else/67934771 Quote: "Sure, Fallout gives you choice, but it only changes the way people view you, not the actual story. So it would be on an even deeper level." Fable 1 has the same problem, right? Whether you behave good or bad only affects how people see you, but the story remains the same, so the  moral choice is not very useful there.
  4. Lionel Pixel

    My First Videogame Failed Conquering The Market

      It's likely not one thing that drives away all your customers. Likely some segment is driven away by bad graphics, another segment by bad gameplay (you can sorta detect this by your user metrics - did they play for ten minutes and never return?), another segment by never having heard of the game in the first place.   For me, I see this and it drives me away:   Since you want feedback, I take a second look and see the graphics actually aren't all that bad, but it has some garrish issues that prevent me from seeing that on my first glance - and most players will probably only give you that glance.   If you look at the picture as a whole, it is an vibrant lime-green burning my eyes like acid. The 3D modelling isn't bad, but the brightness of the yellow-green is pretty intense. I think even digitally altering this one image may get people in-game.   The problem is, a customer's eyes has to adjust to the garishness of the image before seeing that it doesn't look bad, but they aren't going to wait. The second problem is, your eyes are already adjusted to it, so it's hard for you to see it. Try setting it as your desktop background, so you see it at unexpected times when your mind isn't prepared for it.   I think the game also suffers from a lack of shading. The bitcoin is flat, the blue arrow is flat, the fences don't seem to cast shadows.   Also your text is hard to read. Where it says "the bittles", for some reason the first word is in all lowercase, and the second word is in all uppercase. The first word is in one font, the second in another font. The first word is near invisible, and the second has a bunch of dots making it hard to read.   Honestly, I couldn't see the first word at all, and the second word at a glance looks like it says BITCHES rather than BITLES.   Further, "Bitles" is actually spelled wrong. I know it's a word you made up for your game, but it's actually spelled with two T's, unless you're localizing into French. English has rules and a certain feel to it, so even made-up words need to follow that.   I don't know the specific rules involved here, but intuitively: "Bitles" reads as "Bit  less" "Bittles" reads as "Bit tolls" (i.e. "a small bit")     Don't get discouraged. You've completed a game, which is incredible!   The problem now is, your game needs to be polished and refined. I don't know the source of the quote, but "Polish is everything you do to improve your work AFTER you thought you were finished."   Or you can roll the knowledge gained into your next project... but to do that, you have to actually understand what's wrong about this project, or you might just repeat the same mistakes.   Oh, and I haven't played your game, I just saw that single image I re-posted in this post.   Thanks for having taken the time to answer.   Yes i think i will want to learn something from the errors to make a new game better.   About the "too bright lime-yellow", actually i did not notice that, could be due to me being accustomed to it, or my monitor ?? For example this image looks too bright to you? Just to understand         And... yes i understand that for professional graphics i need a dedicated artist, but here we're talking about very garish things , not details, and i just want to make sure my eyes actually work well :)
  5. Lionel Pixel

    My First Videogame Failed Conquering The Market

      Thanks.   But why do you discourage comparing with other games? It is useful for understanding what went wrong and improving in analyzing the market, i guess. And i'm sure every game market researcher analyses other games all the time   About the "dodgy" yes, i think that is a major factor that drove players away. And maybe also the fact that it is about bitcoins, but most people are not into them, so they felt like "it's not something for me, i'll pass"
  6. Lionel Pixel

    My First Videogame Failed Conquering The Market

        These used to be heavily featured on our site, but they didn't survive the transition a few years back.  Even though the name "shareware" doesn't really apply, everything else does: Read This Thoughtfully.    At a glance it is not pretty, nothing on the Google Play encourages it, you don't have effective marketing, you don't have a beautiful storefront.   Simply, I have not even bothered to play your game, and the tiny amount of your game I have seen does not make me want to play. That is one of many factors that need to get fixed.   Ugly can be fine, because ugly can still be pleasing in other ways.  Comically ugly can succeed.     Take a serious look at your page:   Capture.PNG   The hand-scrawled font and ugly graphics, the heavily aliased blobs in the image (they don't show up well in the thumbnail version of your site, zoom in on that image), the mismatch between art styles between the world objects and game objects.  And on top of that all, you're asking "give me money for this!"   That image of a bug with that particular expression, you're using that as your headline. That is where people put their best work. The very best of your game is captured by that image of a bug with a stupid look on his face, those particular graphics, the skewed bubble letters that look they were thrown on by a ten-year-old who just discovered how to make word art.    I've worked on teams that had child-like graphics, and watched as artists struggled for months building icon sets that looked childlike but not childish. It takes an enormous amount of effort to build that out as an art style. As a memorable quote:  "It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child." - Pablo Picasso   Those are the first things I would fix.  Get your art styles consistent, capture the funnest part of gameplay as your key images, and make marketing materials so they don't look like a fifth grader's art project.   Go over all your materials, everything in your game, and everything you are using to market your game.  Look at it on a big screen, take a good look at every detail and ask, "Is this my best work?  Would I buy this?" Repeat until you've covered the whole thing.  Then go get a bunch of people who you think are your target market and ask them the same questions, do it as focus groups, and fix everything they point out.  Repeat over and over, with bigger focus groups, re-releasing your product until you eventually get it right.     Thanks for the valuable feedback. I will read the article you point now.     The "aliased spots" you talk about are the ones on the bug's head (bug's yellow eyes, black spots on his head),   or the red ones in the "Bitles" text on the right?   And the in-game object whose style do not match with the world objects, is the Bitcoin ?
  7. Lionel Pixel

    My First Videogame Failed Conquering The Market

      I understand.   But how about that Orange Roulette game i have linked? (that game is not mine). Gameplay is too simplistic, and the graphics... you can count all the sprites it has with one hand But it still reached 150k downloads on Google Play and it shows ads, although not frequently.
  8. Lionel Pixel

    My First Videogame Failed Conquering The Market

      Talking about graphics in free indie games, what about this:   ? The graphics are definitely ugly for a game from the 2012, but still had 176k plays!   And what about this one:  Ugly graphics and over 150.000 downloads both on GameJolt and Play Store   There must be something related to either gameplay, or the fact people thinks there is a bitcoin miner/malware inside my game i think.
  9. Lionel Pixel

    My First Videogame Failed Conquering The Market

    Second part is correct. Actually the rewards were low compared to the effort of watching boring ads. But hey! On mobile the people is used to see ads, no? So at least the mobile version of the game should have been accepted by players. First part i disagree because the game is free-to-play. And third part also is wrong because giving just your BTC address is like giving the bank coordinates or paypal account: it's for receiving money but not enough to let anyone pull money from it. They need the passwords don't they?
  10. I have completed and released a F2P puzzle/strategic game called The Bitles, (http://www.TheBitles.com) in which you have to solve puzzles and collect Bitcoins while solving them. In the puzzles, you have to guide beetle-like insects through with the arrows, in order to make them reach the exit, and make them use bombs to kill the enemies. The gameplay is inspired by SEGA's Chu Chu Rocket with some rules added to it. The players can also earn free BTC while playing, and get BTC rewards everyday, then withdraw to their BTC wallet. Giving the rewards is possible for me because the game is supported by ads, and the rewards actually are part of ad earnings. This was my first game, made with Unity in 6 months , and i spent about - 1.5k $ for outsourcing a part of the work, such as a few custom shaders, sounds FX, some 3D models and building the game on iOS and Mac - 500$ for promoting it total spent about 2k $  (plus all the months i spent working on it) Result: despite i have promoted it on some minor magazines and BTC forums, the game has been getting just 30-40 game sessions a day since the start. So, 0 ROI. It also failed on Steam Greenlight (https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=711922785), because desktop gamers do not like ads, even though my game is paying them in Bitcoins to watch them. They prefer to pay for a better game, and without ads. I am writing this thread to ask you some feedback , why such a cruel failure? Even on mobile and even among Bitcoin enthusiasts. Some of the Steam users told me they thought there is a BTC miner inside the game, or some malware, so that's the only reason of failure that comes to my mind now. Is that the only deciding factor for the failure on mobile, and the ads on the desktop version , or is there something else? Maybe bad promotion? But i'm more inclined to say it could be bad execution of the gameplay idea. I give the floor to you experts Thanks!
  11. Lionel Pixel

    The right game category for a console

      At least .. Did the publisher offer a sufficient amount for the PC version?
  12. Lionel Pixel

    The right game category for a console

    I apologize for posting in the wrong section   I understand this can be a *non* trivial business analysis activity , but i'd like to learn just the basics. Is there any article/guide on game business analysis ?   ---------------------------- Example analysis:   I remember Powerstone 1 & 2, renowed and original fighting games from 15 years ago. A similar game has never been made after then. So i was thinking about making a similar one with little changes to the gameplay and technical/graphical updates of course. I think in that way i have defined a gameplay which is both fun (since it is almost copied from a good game that "worked") and perceived as original as well (most gamers can't remember Powerstone since they're too young and there is no similar game ).   So i will definitely make that game, it should work. Target platform: it is suitable to most consoles but not for PC since it is a fighting game  which is not a popular category on PC. But if i release it for PC as well, it may easily be one of the best PC fighting games because i have little competition there. As someone told me here in this thread, if the execution is good you may have economical success even if there is not much audience matching that category on that platform  ( Jak&Dexter is a good example ).   So i will port it to PC as well ( maybe i'll warn the users to get a gamepad because a mouse+keyboard is not comfortable for fighting games).   Was the analysis correct in you opinion? I've no experience on this, i appreciate if you point me to some resource or book   Thanks
  13. There are some platforms which are "suitable" for games for kids and families (Nintendo home consoles) and other ones that "work better" for hardgamers or adult people like racing simulators, FPS, etc. (PS4/XBOX).   Technically all consoles can run all categories of games, it's just a matter of perception from the audience which think that Sony&Microsoft have serious games and Nintendo is for children/families.   If you are thinking about a game design you have to choose the target platform(s) as well, taking into account the potential sales you would generate on that platform.   If you want to follow the common rule of choosing the "most suitable" platform for your game , though, you will likely face more competition. More gamers which like your type of game, but more competitor developers.   Conversely, if you are the only one going to ship a Tekken or Gran Turismo - like game on the WiiU... you have to ask yourself if there are enough children who like it. And if the game has even little violence in it, children may like it but some family association probably will  throw a monkey wrench in your works if the game is for WiiU but it won't if it is for PS4! That's strange uh? It happened in the past to Carmageddon 64 for N64, they had to change the blood color in that version of the game, but not on PC/PSX...   So what is the right choice, face the competition and possibly the saturation, or be the only one with that genre for that platform? I remember World Driver Championship for N64 , it was the *only* decent GT game on the 64 and had very good sales for that reason... can't tell if the developer broke even at least though.... there is a reason why nobody else took that risk
  14. Lionel Pixel

    Mobile games with big file size

      Thank you for the reply   If it's over 100MB you can still download on mobile connection, the problem is you're consuming monthly traffic (in many countries, mobile connections are fast like an ADSL but they're costly and there's a monthly bandwidth limit of 1/2/4/8/12 GB or more, it depends).   Maybe in U.S. and Canada the Wifi is everywhere so who cares.   In other countries that may not the case, so i should check how much traffic the carriers offer for every country.       P.S. About the APK limit: it is actually nonexistent because you can build the game with APK Expansion files if you exceed 100MB.
  15. My free mobile game has very large file size: around 250MB   Can it be acceptable for gamers, assuming the game is good and they are motivated to play it after watching a demo/review etc.?   Maybe it depends on the country and the monthly traffic available to mobile internet plans. For now let's consider just U.S. and Canada
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