Game design for browser based games

Just recently we decided to put another one of our ideas, for a game, into production (we tend to have quite a few) our justification for this, is, this is how we got into web design. And we absolutely love doing it, we feel it really gives us the power to create something passionately and also have a lot of fun along the way, which is great. So we also thought what better thing to do than begin blogging our way through the development process. We’re planning a series of very useful blog posts which explain alot of topical decisions that we made when bringing the idea up from just an idea, to a practical and working game base (believe me this is not quite as easy as it sounds).

Over the last 3 years we’ve been running and maintaining our other online game, Street Crime which has been lots of hardwork but also lots of fun. However during this 3 years we have learnt an in-comprehendible amount of extra stuff about the industry we operate in and importantly how games can be maximised within the industry.

blizzard logo white large Game design for browser based gamesThe web has always provided a great platform for gaming, and the online gaming market is worth $2 billion dollars every year, with a 22% growth from the last. It has been the foundation for such companies as Blizzard (with the World of Warcraft series) and Jagex (Runescape) to build a powerful empire within the gaming world.
zynga logo Game design for browser based games

You’ve also got the likes of Social game giants, Zynga, who built up a huge business from small titles rolled out very early on the Facebook platform (who now have multiple titles).

Quite frankly, we’d like a piece of that pie. And who knows, maybe you do too?

In the coming few weeks as we build up a new title, we will be blogging regularly about aspects that we have overcome or we feel very strongly about within our games. And largely about how the elements of science and statistical analysis play huge rolls in not only making a good game, but being a reactive game, that doesn’t bury its head in the sand after initial development. Much of which must be dealt with in the planning phase’s.

They key to all good games is PLANNING

You will have probably heard people nattering on about planning before you get started with any project. And you really should listen. Take it from us. We’ve been there and done that without enough planning, and it really can effect the ability for your game / application or business model to grow. We always try to make sure we learn from our mistakes, so everytime we now build anything new, we come together first and make a pool of new things we’ve learnt / found / stumbled across that we think will be relevant to our new venture. We then will spend a few days or so weaning out what can and can’t be used for the project or what is just darn right to ambitious. So that we end up with an improved base using new techniques with each new project we make, but that is sustainable and manageable.

Start small and GROW

When you first come up with an idea for anything be it a game or an application, or whatever really, generally speaking you start by thinking that either your idea is better than what exists or that infact it doesn’t exist currently at all. Now, for us in the game market, games exist, browser games do and have done for quite sometime. So that means we’re usually under the pretence that our games are just better, and well, they just are. So we go by thinking that our games are good and we genuinely think that players will enjoy playing them, which essentially is exactly why we make games, for the pure enjoyment of being able to play them and have fun. After all thats what games are all about right?

And in honesty it’s an all out dog fight to bring players to our games rather than any other game on the market, why? Its a crowded market, it has low barriers to entry, making it easy enough for anybody to make a game which is accessible to the www. But we think thats great, after all, thats how we got here. However there is no denying that the average player looking for a new game to play will have to wade through an incredible amount of not so great games, before plying his / her trade at one they do find fun and playable (hopefully one of ours).

Now, alot of people, us included, will think, “hey you know what, I can make a better game than this one”, perhaps even loosely based around the same concept. But often when building a game based around another game, you’ll find that you end up taking quantity over quality. Expecting that because your version has x amount more missions or x amount more features that makes it better. NO. It really doesn’t. So many developers fall into this pitfall. The ONLY way you can make a good game, is with careful (very careful) planning and a healthy amount of testing.

Alot of development teams also think, i’ll spend 6 months making this and then we will launch (once upon a time, us included). NO. Spend 1 month, get the core set of features, into your game and build up with the user base. Players won’t hang around, not in the browser game market, if a player isn’t already satisfied with the game they are playing they will look for a quick fix to find one elsewhere, if your game is in development for 6 months, they sure as hell are going to have forgotten about you before the time comes.

Looking for a new game on the web is largely fuelled by impulse, which is largely down to “boredom” or the simple fact the user wants something fun / creative to do with some spare time they have. If your game does not meet their expectations they’ll simply just move on. So having a lengthy development time is really not doing anyone any good.

Developing your game after launch is a much better way, to keep development costs down and also allows you to involve users very early on in what does and doesn’t go into the game to expand its horizons. More opinions are always better.
But be warned only with careful planning and forward planning from the very start, can this totally be achieved, due to the nature of updating code bases and games, downtime and disruption / bugs / errors are a big no, no to try and avoid. So careful planning and heavy testing before each additional add on to the game, is needed.

An example of this shorter development time, is, say for instance you want your game to have 100 missions. Which you estimate will take approx 4 weeks to make. Logically we would argue, do the first 25, in your first week and launch them. Then release 25 a week extra as you do them as “mission pack” add ons for the game. People love new content, they prefer to be fed content slowly, rather than overwhelmed from the start and thats just the way of it.

Always consider both planning the game or application now, but also do lots of planning for the future, for instance:

  • What direction will it go in?
  • What additional features are we looking to add?
  • At what intervals are we going to continue adding additional content?
  • How are we going to add additional content?
  • Is the codebase versatile to change?

And the list goes on, but if you can answer these questions, well, then you will be in better stead than most.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the article, more to come soon.

Blog written by Dave

I am one of the Directors of Bytewire and I like to blog about lots of different and interesting stuff surrounding the website design and development world.

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