Nathan is a game design expert at GameAnalytics. Currently founder and game design instructor at GDquest.
How to Run a Successful Kickstarter for your Game
Chances are you’ve thought about running your own Kickstarter. Money coming directly from your community and passionate players, wouldn’t that be great? Crowdfunding is more than an option to budget your projects. First, it doesn’t have to be the only one. It combines well with subsidies, it doesn’t prevent you from collaborating with a publisher, or running on another stream of income. It offers a great way to test the market and your communication before you release your game to the world. But success is not a given. Less than half the campaigns reach their goal. It is not easy money either. Take this route if you want to involve your community and unlock some extra funds as you’re building the game. It takes a lot of preparation, and a good understanding of what your visitors will love, more so...
How To Perfect Your Game’s Core Loop
At the heart of your game’s design, there are core mechanics, and the core gameplay loop. In short, it’s the main activities that structure the entire design and the players engage into repeatedly, in a looping sequence. It’s part of the essence of the game, something you cannot remove without fundamentally altering the experience. In the original Mario, this would be walking, running and jumping. The various enemies, bosses, and environments stem from the core mechanics. They are here to surprise the player, challenge his skills and keep the experience fresh. In other words: to exploit the core loop to its fullest, and add extra depth to the experience. There are several loops that structure your projects, depending on the lenses you use. Just like there’s a core gameplay loop, there are core economic loops that will derive from your...
How To Grow A Gaming Community (When You Don’t Have Players)
When you get started with social networks, it’s tough. Nobody follows you. Nobody reads you. Nobody knows you! How do other game developers get those thousands of followers? 2 years ago, no one knew me either. I was terrible at communication, and I didn’t like it. Back then, I had failed a company, largely due to a lack of online presence. And today? Not only do I enjoy the exchanges with the community every day: I learned to communicate the hard way and it paid off. With a niche concept in game design education, I’ve got 30,000 YouTube subscribers, gain around 50 more every day, and companies who come to me with job offers. Thanks to them all, I’m fully independent. When it comes to getting visibility, there’s no short answer. No definitive formula to drive the people’s interest. It’s...
Our 9 Sound Design Tips to Improve your Game’s Audio
We barely touched on sound, yet it’s an important part of the game’s experience: It gives cues to the player that will help him to react to the world. For example, you can hint the presence of some NPC behind a wall or inside a building. Or let the player know that an enemy is rushing on him while it’s not visible yet. Sound provides instant feedback to the player’s inputs. We talked about that in the article on juicing, which you can check out right here: Squeezing more juice out of your game design! Music is your most powerful tool to drive emotion. Sound effects greatly contribute to the player’s immersion. The absence of sound, or bad sound design will break your game’s feel. That’s why you want to pay great attention to it. For this article, we collected...
How to Budget your Mobile Indie Game
It’s hard to estimate the amount of work required to produce a game from start to finish. We know it can be costly. It turns out there’s not a lot of information on the topic out there, thus it’s hard to schedule a project right. That’s why we asked independent studios to share some advice to help you budget your next indie mobile game. Larger companies have dedicated project managers or producers to take care of that. Hence, we’re going to focus on indie studios. How to get a mobile game budget right: the basics In short, there are only so many steps you must tackle to budget your game right: Plan your fixed costs (office rent, supplies, hardware, software licenses, legal support, accounting…) List all the tasks required to ship the finished product Break down the tasks into small,...
Being Successful in Free to Play Games: Atelier 801 Interview
We got in touch Melanie Christin, the co-founder of Atelier 801, an independent game studio that produced the massively multiplayer Free to Play title Transformice. Its community has been extremely active since 2011, the year of its initial release. We asked her for tips and feedback on the company’s experience. Melanie, can you tell me who you are and what you do at Atelier 801? Hi, I am Melanie Christin, the cofounder of Atelier 801. We built this game company with my partner, Jean-Baptiste Le Marchand, thanks to the success of our first game, a multiplayer title called Transformice. And we created the game one year before the studio. Your flagship game is Transformice. How does it play? Transformice is a massively online multiplayer browser-based game. The player is a small mouse that jumps from platform to platform to catch a...
Getting into Free to Play Games: Lone Stone Studios Interview
There’s nothing like learning from the experience of other developers. That’s why we went ahead and interviewed a young mobile game studio who’s working on their first Free to Play title, City Invaders. We got in touch with Pierrick, the company’s co-founder. He shares his experience getting a mobile game studio started. Following on our recent 2-part article Launching a Mobile Game Business he shared some tips and several decisions the team took to hopefully make both the company and the game a success. Hi there! Could you tell us who you are and what you do at Lone Stone? Hi, I’m Pierrick Bignet, co-founder of Lone Stone studios, a game company that also provides web services. We are a small independent studio, so I’m both the game designer and one of the developers in the team. We all work on several different...
How To Make Your Game UI Shine & Increase Conversions
Why game UI matters Maybe you want to help the players find their way through the menus. You may also want to increase your sales. Regardless of your goal, you can achieve it all by using the principles of design the right way and measuring the impact of your changes. We want people to find their way around the game, to even focus on the game. To make this a reality, we should remove friction in the interface. We don’t want the player to waste time in the menus. We want them to get the information they need through the interface. No more, no less. Unlike the gameplay, you pretty much always want to simplify navigation as much as you can. This has nothing to do with the game’s difficulty or “casual” gaming. In mobile titles, the interface does not only allow...
The 9 Do’s and Don’ts of Game Trailers
Editor’s note: as we discussed in Marketing Your Indie Game on a Zero-Dollar Budget and How To Create Immersive Game Intros, your game’s trailer is one of your most powerful marketing assets. Whether it’s for your website’s visitors, who want to get a sense of how the game feels, or more importantly for the press, who will use it to decide whether they want to cover your game or not. This article will help you showcase your game in the best possible light. Game trailer fundamentals Your game trailer shows what the game is, and it has the power to drive emotion and interest before people get a chance to try out your game. It provides you with an arsenal of visual and audio tools to turn viewers into players. The structure of your trailer will likely always be the same. It will: Start...
5 Tips to Improve Your Game’s User Experience
What is UX Design? User experience – or UX – is often a domain we don’t know too much about as game developers. It isn’t big in games yet. However, it’s a common role in software development teams, and for a good reason. UX designers are an essential bridge between the engineers and the users. Their role is to make the program clearer, and as intuitive as possible. Games are applications as well. We want the user – the player – to be able to pick up the game by himself. To overcome challenges on his own. In other words, we want his experience – the user’s experience – to feel great and seamless. If the game designer adds features and mechanics to the game, the UX designer subtracts anything clunky, that adds noise, to make the game more enjoyable....
Marketing Your Indie Game On A Zero-Dollar Budget
Why Marketing Your Game is Essential Most indie games are not profitable. There are plenty of great games that come out all the time, and as you know, making great games is not enough to sell them. It’s true for all kinds of creations and products. You can rarely rely on what you make to grab attention. In the crowded game market, your first problem is to reach out to people. To prove them that your work is worth their time and attention. That is why you must communicate in smart and innovative ways. I insist: it is necessary. See, I’m a creator, just like you. I already built an indie game studio with a talented engineer, and we didn’t make it. And a fair part of that was due to my lack of interest for communication. Since then, I...
3 Simple Steps To Improve Your Game’s Graphics
We have a strong tendency to judge a book by its cover. It takes but a split-second for our opinion of a website or any visual design to be tainted, positively or negatively. Coming up with both an appealing art direction and some efficient UX design is no easy task. When someone discovers your game, their first experience is shaped by your art. They likely see a picture of it first, be it from a screenshot, a video, or your game in action. So if you ever wondered why studios bother spending big money on polished art, now you know. But what are we talking about exactly? Resonant visuals are more than just detailed graphics. They have to be both beautiful and meaningful to players. In practice, your game’s aesthetics encompass both the principles of design and your overall art style....
21 Free Learning Resources For Game Developers
Good learning resources are hard to find. Especially if you’re seeking free content. The internet is filled with content creators, all looking to grab your attention. As an entrepreneur, I’m fond of collecting and sorting resources. I want to focus my time and my mind on courses that are worth the investment. Although we love long lists of links, we often end up skimming through them. We add a few to our favorites and never check them again. I like to approach things the other way around: I filter lists of websites and books down 1 or 2 sources that feel deep, accessible and efficient. And I stick to them. I prefer a single book like Jesse Schell’s Art of Game Design over a list of 50 random websites. I’d rather explore a single library like Ctrl-paint rather than watch...
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