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About LevelUpYourGame

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  1.   I believe he uses this concept as an easy to communicate the importance of managing complexity to non-designers on his team. Explaining it as "we have a complexity budget and we must make sure not exceed it" is easier than trying to justify why that teammate's idea was rejected even though it's kinda fun.
  2. I had the opportunity last week of interviewing Richard Garfield (of Magic: the Gathering fame). He had some very interesting thing to say about finding which ideas are worth pursuing, about prototyping and on managing complexity in a game's design.   He had this to say about complexity:   "Game designs have a complexity budget. You can only have a certain amount of complexity and you have to figure whether it’s worth spending. If you figure you have 10 units of complexity budget and somebody wants to add something of one unit, but it only adds a small value to the game, then that’s not going to be as good as somebody who wants to add something that’s even more complex – it adds two units of complexity – but it adds a lot of value to the game. When people begin thinking about it as a budget that they can use up, it makes it easier to understand why a mechanic may not be strong enough."   You can read the interview here.
  3. LevelUpYourGame

    Game Title

    Brainstorm for a while and come up with a ton of potential titles. Try to find words that are related to what's in your game, its mood, its themes, what the player does, etc. then combine them together to find a few titles that stand out as particularly cool and catchy.   Once you have a handful of good candidates, try them on other people to see which they will like. A good way to do it is to create Google ads with each of the candidate titles, pointing to temporary web pages with a form saying "coming soon" with a field to enter an email address to be notified when the game is ready. Then you look at which ad gets the most clicks to which titles get the most attention.
  4. LevelUpYourGame

    Level Up Your Game

    Thanks for the feedback! Good to know when things aren't clear enough.   I help developers fine tune their design to get more success: generate more word of mouth with a stronger and better communicated concept, get better reviews and increase retention with better gameplay, and monetize better with more attractive offers (for F2P).   Looking back on it, I think you're absolutely right and that without context it can be confusing. I'll change it right away.
  5. LevelUpYourGame

    Battleground Fantasy- crowdfunding question

    Some great answers so far.   Your success comes down to convincing people that they really want to play your game (as opposed to the thousands of other games out there) and that your team is trustworthy (both to actually have the skills to complete the project and to complete it before running out of money). If the first thing people think when they land on your kickstarter page is "Wow! This game looks awesome and the team really seems to know their stuff" then there's a good chance they'll spend money on you. If the first thing they think is "Looks alright I guess, but who are these blokes?" then it's going to be an uphill battle to get funded.   To achieve this you need a decent video. Doesn't have to be Hollywood quality, but try having decent visuals and sound. This video should communicate quickly and effectively what makes your game stand out and awesome, and why your team is super talented and motivated. A lot of people hate reading and they'll only watch the video, so you're losing a lot of potential investors if you don't have one.   Because you're asking people to invest in an idea, you need to make sure this idea sounds awesome. Make sure you communicate your concept quickly and in a compelling way. Ideally your high concept is something that's at once familiar and distinctive. Think "Snakes on a plane": you know exactly what it's going to be, but you've never seen anything like it, so it's intriguing.   Plan the marketing of your Kickstarter in the same way you will plan the marketing of the release of your game. You want the message of your project to reach far and wide so that everybody who's willing to invest will hear about it. At the same time, your Kickstarter serves as a test run for your game: if the concept fails to get traction at this point, you're going to have a hard time having more success once the game is finished unless you make changes to your plans (to your marketing, to the game itself or both); if you get a lot of interest at this early stage then it's a good sign that your project is a winner.   If you'll allow this shameless plug, I'm a consultant who helps developers like you turn their game into hits, including helping with Kickstarter success. If you think you could use some help, check out: http://levelupyourga.me/ (There's an option for a free consultation if you're worried about spending too much)
  6. LevelUpYourGame

    HP displays on enemies or visual indicators?

    Most important is to give good feedback to the player. He must know is his attacks are effective or not so he can adjust his strategy appropriately. The best approach depends on how long it takes to kill enemies and the type of game you're making. If enemies take one or two hit to kill, then you could get away with no feedback at all (the death of the enemy is the feedback). If it takes a few hits to kill enemies, then visual feedback can be more immersive and prettier. If it takes a lot of hits to beat the enemy (e.g. a long boss battle), then visual feedback alone becomes problematic because going from one visual state to another might take too long, or the visual change may be too subtle. In that case a health bar gives better feedback, and even more specific with a number on the health bar.   The real question is how abstract you want your game to be. Numbers are accurate but not very immersive -- it's best to use them for more abstract games where decisions are made based on specific values (e.g. games with a lot of strategy). Visuals are not very accurate but more immersive and realistic (real sword don't damage with numbers) -- it's best to rely on them for immersive games where the player focuses on the action rather than precise planning.
  7. LevelUpYourGame

    Level Up Your Game

    Thanks, braindigitalis! I haven't posted a classified ad, but I'll look into it.   If spending is outside of your budget, I do offer free half-hour consulting sessions. I try to make them as valuable as possible, so you might be interested in trying one out.
  8. LevelUpYourGame

    What do gamers prefer, graphics or gameplay

    I think this is a false dichotomy, because the two are tied together. Ultimately, you're creating an experience and this experience depends on both the graphics and the gameplay. The graphics communicate information and mood while the gameplay determines what's taking place. A survival-horror game with 8 bit graphics probably wouldn't be very scary, for example, because the experience wouldn't be very immersive, while a text adventure game can work if it's written well enough (but it feels and plays very differently than a 3D adventure game).   Beyond the experience you're creating, you may want to consider the business and marketing aspects of this. It's important for a game to be attractive, so players will try it. If your game is super fun but nobody buys or tries it because it looks like crap in screenshots, then you will have a hard time finding success. Attractive doesn't have to mean photorealistic graphics -- in fact stylized and memorable graphics are much better than bland and generic visuals -- but it does mean that players should want to play the game when they see it.
  9. LevelUpYourGame

    Level Up Your Game

    Thanks for the clearer feedback. The text you've had a hard time reading says: "We help developers create remarkable, buzz-worthy, profitable games. Don’t get lost in the crowd. Let us help you turn your game into a hit." You can just scroll to read everything else, as there is a single page.   For the test size, may I suggest pressing "Ctrl-+" a few times to zoom the page? Or adjusting your screen DPI settings in Windows' display options (assuming you're on Windows)? It seems to me like you must encounter tiny text very regularly at such a resolution.   As for performance, I'm affraid this is mostly tied to your browser or computer's performance since the image slider is made in HTML5 and Javascript.
  10. LevelUpYourGame

    Level Up Your Game

    Geez, thanks for the constructive criticism. What was the problem exactly? Or did you just want to brag about your screen's resolution?
  11. LevelUpYourGame

    How elaborate does your design document get?

    Wikis are great for design docs, and you can find free ones that are easy to use (don't use Wikipedia's system. It's the most famous one, but it's optimized for running a large website with lots of visitors rather than for simplicity). For tracking tasks, I recommend using Trello and creating boards for tasks that are To-Do/Being Done/To Test/Final. For the complexity of the game design doc (GDD) itself, after years of trying different approaches, I've come to favor what I call "Just in Time Design". It's pretty simple: you write your design in two separate phases. The first pass on the GDD is written during pre-production. You should write just enough information that people reading it have a good idea of how everything works and what will be required to create the game. It should cover every aspect of the game, but it shouldn't go into too much details. For example, you should include a description of each enemy type, but you don't have to go into specific details like the exact number of hit points or how many animations it requires. Once this document is ready, you send it to everyone on your team to get ideas and feedback (including about whether the design can realistically be made). The second pass on the GDD is written during development. Right before your teammates are about to start working on a given feature (say, the week before), you write a very detailed document about the feature. It should have enough information for your programmer to implement the feature without asking clarifications every 5 minutes and for your artist to do all of the assets. (On a large project I'd recommend to go into lots of details, but for a tiny team who's probably all on the same page, you can probably keep things simpler) Once your document is ready, you send a link to it to the people who will be working on the feature and organize a quick meeting to discuss it. During the meeting, your teammates can ask all of the questions they want and suggest ideas to improve things (this meeting is also important because it will increase the chance that your teammates will actually read the design, which you can never take for granted). Then you add these ideas and clarifications into the document, and that's what they'll use to implement the feature. The great thing about this approach is that it avoids a common problem of other ways of designing games. Usually, either you write everything upfront or you barely design anything at first and design as you go. Designing everything upfront never works because things invariably change between preproduction and the time the feature is implemented, making the GDD unreliable. Not designing upfront is bad because your team is lost and doesn't know where they're going, and you risk making the game way too big without realizing it. Designing the overall plan upfront then adding details as you is the best of both worlds, and it works great with Agile management, if you're using that.
  12. LevelUpYourGame

    Currency in post-apoc / zombie world?

    Since this doesn't appear to be a realistic simulation of a post-apocalyptic world, I think trying to be super-realistic isn't necessarily desirable. You must first ask yourself how this currency fits within your game. What is its purpose and what characteristics must it have to achieve this purpose? From the game's description, my guess would be that the currency must make buying and selling things easy, and that ideally it should add personality to the game (i.e. it says something about the world and the people who inhabit it). Nobody's looking for a realistic simulation of economics -- in the real medieval world, almost nobody had actual gold coins, much less monsters in the middle of the woods, yet nobody cares when that happens in Diablo. The caps in Fallout do that very well, and so may the zombie fingers mentioned above. Off the top of my head, here are a few more ideas: pre-apocalypse credit cards (the cards themselves, not the value on them) can tabs (the pull-tabs to open soda cans) batteries (of various sizes) ammo shells playing cards
  13. LevelUpYourGame

    Level Up Your Game

    Howdy folks, I'm new here (well, I used to visit here occasionally many years ago) so I wanted to introduce myself. I'm a game consultant hoping to help game developers turn their games into hits by making them more remarkable, buzz-worthy and profitable. I've been making games since 2002, mostly as a game designer, and I've worked both as an indie and on large projects for big publishers (EA, Activision, DeNA, etc.) I'm going to be straight with you: my plan is to start helping people here regularly, so that some of you may find me insightful enough that you'll consider visiting my site and scheduling a free half-hour chat over Skype so I can further help you out. Hopefully this will be so useful that you'll realize that using my paid services will increase your game's profits by much more than it costs and that you'd be a fool not to. First step of this grand plan to take over the game dev world is to be super helpful. So, how may I help you?
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