Tuesday, February 21, 2017

City of the damned

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City of the damned is a single player roguelike where a demon invasion occur in an unnamed city.

I suggest a play of this game, not only because roguelike is a fascinating genre of games (not only for me: dwarf fortress, FTL anyone ?)  but can be and interesting way to discover new kind of games.

In the city of the damned, you can choose between angels and demons and decide which side will win in this particular wars.
Demons have particular power (possession of humans!) and have to disguise themself in order to kill humans and become more powerful and defeat angels.
Angels on the other side, can detect demons and must all of them, protecting humans lives.

I've found these premise intriguing, mostly because demons are really challenging and satisfying side! Act like and human, hide and kill lonely ones and become more powerful, until you can become a demon and attack other powerful characters.

A really nice roguelike, that demonstrate, another time, that graphic is important but is not crucial for the player experience, if the setting, theme, game mechanics are mixed in the right way!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Support your customers using prices and demos

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I've found really interesting this article (related to development of a roguelike, Cogmind) about finding the right price for a game.
As developer in my spare time, building a game and sell it seems like a dream. People paying and playing my games it's really cool and satisfying. Not only for the money, it's important, of course, but in particular for the proud to build something that other people finds valuable.

In my experience as developer and manager in the software industry, I'm constantly reasoning about how to show the value of a software to our customers. It's an hard topic and depends on a lot of factors, many trivial (price for example), but other hard to track and identify (the real customers needs!).

Iterating many times on that topic if found interesting what cogmind developer is saying about pricing and customers. When you sell an a big audience a low-priced software, you found immediately with a lot of customers. I've become confided ( I mean, really confident ) that selling a software is not the end of the story. You have to support your customers, otherwise you will not sell your precious and important software anymore. For many developers, young and senior, support customers is a painful process: you have to read emails, answers them, be on the forum.
So, if you have a lot of customers, not so interested in your game, or like the article point out, not so "get used to" your software, you are literally wasting a lot of time on support.

Imagine to answer for the tenth time the same question again (real life experience of myself here). You can build a faq, but literally less and less people read them, even the software manual are forgotten on these days. On the game support, it think is even harder: do you remember last time you read a manual for a videogame ?

I don't read manuals anymore and you ?

There are a lot of techniques to teach your customers how to use your software out there, this is not the point of my post. I think that have an higher price is one of them.. but it's really dangerous. I mean, pricing is hard, really, really hard, in every field, and pricing a single player roguelike, like pointed out on the article, it's even harder.

As final not, I want to elaborate on the demos. I think demos are really useful. As a customer, I want to understand your software, your game. I think should be interesting, right? So why do you want me to pay for it? Why you are not able to provide a demo, I mean a "demonstration" of your work ?
I know using many video tutorials I can easily understand your work, but why provide a way for your customers to play, understand be used yo your game ?
I've found these days that many developers (game or not) are not providing demo, trials or so on.. and I think them are wrong. Many people out there could be your customers, so why wasting this opportunity ?

In the end I think that a good way to support your customers, existing and future ones, are provide a demo (limited in time, in features, on a license key, any way you want!) so you can ease the pain for supporting your customers. What do you think a about it ?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Making great games is more than programming

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Today I've read this article from indiewatch and I've found it really interesting.
An hard lesson I've learned in years of this hobby and even now it's hard to understand and act according to it: keep it small (stupid).

I'm talking about making a videogame: for many people a dream for child or crazy people, for others a billions dollars industry. But what do you need in order to make a great games?
The article talks about Unity a great tool to make videogames, but of course you need a lot of passion, organization and design in order to build a good videogame (you can find my videogames here on the blog): I've tried and it's really hard.

But the important point in the article is you need to stay small, organize all your games elements in a coherent way (game design anyone ? ) in order to build an experience for your player!

p.s: in the bottom of the article there are a lot of great resources on the subject, take a look!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Warsim: how to build an intriguing game, without an interface, or not?

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Today is the time for a small review of Warsim ( currently in beta!).

In Warsim you take the role of a king, with a lot of other kingdom around, in a randomly generated world (races, places, names, faces! all of them are randomly generated) and try to crush your opponents raiding them or also invading they lands.

The game right now is enjoyable and fully playable, with a lot of exploration behind. The main goal for the player at the start is to understand what's happening (of course!) and use gold to upgrade the kingdom, get better troops, hire more troops and manage diplomacy is possible to get rid of all opponents. I really appreciate the mix between a strategy game and a roguelike, because the exploration part (based on luck!) open up new areas, buildings, encounters and enemies. I'll keep on eye on that concept, because is really cool!

The interface is key of this game. I mean, it's based on text, I know. But after the punch in the face, you can smile. In few commands you can control your kingdom, gather all information you need, and attack your enemies. It's funny to see how much information Warsim can build in few turns: mercenaries bands roaming around, demons cults killing your peasants, raiding from other countries, battle in the arena, raising of new champions.. a lot of simulation is behind the scene and keep the game really refreshing and satisfying experience.

One downside, after some time playing with it, it's the game lack a bit of balance and require a lot of input from player: when player decide to attack, at the end of the turn, he can decide which troops to use, but as input, Warsim require every time to type how many of them.. tedius, but can grant an higher degree of control, I suppose!

Try it, could be a strange and new experience! I have to go back to my kingdom, ask some troops to my allies and fight these three-eyed dwarfs keeping raiding my lands and explore some strange sinkhole..

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

How to design your videogame: design goals

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Design a videogame is not a easy task. Even if you are involved in a big AAA title, or a simple 7DRL or a Ludum dare 48 hours challenge, you have to think about your design.

So today I want you suggest a small reading, here "Design Contradictory choices".

I like this kind of small blog posts, because in few word can help to see a problem on a different angle. From my point of view, you can see that many, many successful games have a lot of contradictory choices.
Take for example an RTS like Starcraft 2. As a player, you have to decide if you want to spend your resources build an army now, or expand into a new base, or create new building. These are all contradictory choices, constrained by the amount of resources player has and the time. Of course at the same time, player has to keep in mind what the other player/players are doing!