krish – 起死回生 [Wake up from death & return to life.]

December 12, 2012

Indie Game Dev/Designers – Things to Do, Things Not To.

Couple of hours ago I got a request for a game review by an Indie/seemingly Indie dev.
Playing that game, and even some similar games earlier makes me write this list of Do’s and Don’ts for an Indie.

SideNote: Yes, I tend to play a ton of games to learn design flaws and excellences, as an Indie myself; I think its a must..

I however, will avoid making references to those games; because I consider it rude/too harsh on young Indies 🙂

So, here’s a list of Don’ts to start with.. and I’ll keep adding/updating the list as I come across more and find time to instantly add it.

If you’re an Indie, you might wanna skim through this list.. I know it gets excited and hyper to launch a game, but a quality stuff matters more than just throwing something half done out there and then asking around people to review it.
Take it with a pinch of salt 🙂

Indie DONT’s:

1. Don’t release your game as a version 1.0 / any stable to any app store before it actually is a properly done game.
Most of the games I get asked to review look like prototypes.
Please take feedback from other Indie game devs who have already released a good game before considering your game ready for app store shipping.

2. Don’t spoil the gameplay by accompanying it with horrible art.
I’ve seen some games have potential due to their gameplay, but the art sucked to an extent that it made the game eyesore and I stopped playing after 3-5 minutes.
I’m not saying everyone can be a great game artist, but if you don’t have the skill.. please take external help.
Your game will end up selling more and you will see rewards.

3. Don’t spoil the gaming experience by using ear-paining sounds / using no sound at all.
Game sounds are as important as Game Art is. Please get some good sounds in the game…unless your game is the next Limbo.
The player needs to be hooked up both visually and acoustically.
I simply tend to fall asleep if there is no sound in the game; if there is a horrible one, I’d anyway turn off the sound and hence again fall asleep.

4. Don’t ignore your Animations.
Games run on different devices, they can be slow/fast. They could be loaded with other processes eating up the memory.
If a gamer clicks/touches on a certain option on your menu and has to wonder whether the “touch/click” did happen or not… then you’re in trouble. You were probably missing a simple animation that changes color of an option on touch.. letting player know that ‘ok you have touched this option, now wait’.
That’s just the simplest level. There are tons of places where devs/designers seem to miss simple animations that make the game feels responsive.

5. Don’t LIFT art from other games and put them in your Stable release.
Again on the topic of art, I happen to notice a game that uses another game’s Protagonist (developed by a different entity; so not your property) and change the ‘color’ and use it as one of the Antagonist in their game. Not just that, they’ve also used couple of minions (with color changed) in their game.
Which is kinda shocking, because Yes, you can use art from internet for prototyping, you can use license free sprites in your stable release too, BUT using another game’s IP (Intellectual Property), in your STABLE release! A Big NO.
You should be just thanking your stars that your ass isnt sued already.

6. Don’t ask your friends/family/colleagues(non-gamers) to write a Nice review with 5 star rating on app store.
The moment a real gamer looks at those reviews / even a real investor looks at it.. we know that it’s a premeditated review. And on top of that, when we play the game and it turns out to be not-that-great… your game loses even more respect (and even you as a developer lose respect) to have asked people to write “This is awesome. You exceeded my expectations” and also give a “5 star rating”.
I encounter those, I don’t play another game from same developer.. I don’t even care to look at it.
Have some standards, Have some respect to the appstores that might get you revenues later. Don’t forge it. Get real reviews from real gamers.
I’d anyday be happy to play a 3.5/4star rated game that is fairly good, than play a 5 star rated game that has forged reviews and is crappy as hell.

7. Don’t overlook minor User experience stuff
Games that don’t have a ‘Turn sound off’ option, that don’t give enough visual feedback on touches, that don’t have a tutorial on how to play, that has a misguided ‘help’ button, don’t have an exit button/option, don’t bother to reward users on small achievements.

8. Don’t be like an ad serving Porn Site
I agree its difficult for us Indie’s struggling with revenues, but that doesn’t mean you’ll go and put ads at places where player NEEDS to touch/click in order to play the game; forcing users to either click the ad or making user accidentally click ads in between gameplay.
Both are terribly annoying!
I’ll give you an example: Today I played a game that has all its ads stacked up at the end of each level/within a “more games” option in the menu (ads, cross game promotions etc). and then another game that had its ad placed at bottom-center of the screen where I needed to “swipe” to play the game.
Guess what:

First game – I played for 20 mins. I finished couple of levels, wrote them a nice review on app store. Gave 5 star rating. Wanted to tweet but their tweet button was bit broken sadly. Clicked on 11 of their ads featuring other games, downloaded 9 of them and will play them tomorrow. The game still exists on my tablet and I’ll play it again.

Second game – Looked at it 3 secs. Tried to play without touching the ad on accidental swipe. Hated it. Closed. Uninstalled. Will never play it again or may be even not look at another game from same publisher.

9. Don’t have unambiguous/endless/vague objectives if your game has levels and is not an RPG/Puzzle
Damn you if your game says it has 150 levels, and I’m playing the first level since last 15 minutes and your game is a ‘Casual’ genre. Of the 15 minutes, 5 minutes I try to figure out what the fuck I am supposed to do (lack of tutorial), 10 minutes after figuring out due to self-intelligence I’m just killing same minions again and again, with same difficulty level, with no sense of when the stage is “marked” complete or what are the objectives to be met to complete a stage.
Game is uninstalled and it will be long time before I look at another game that says same publisher.

Contributions from Redditors 🙂

11. Don’t advertise your game before it’s ready to be advertised. – by HollisFenner

12. Don’t Bite more than you can Chew! – by ChainsawSam

13. asskickingjedi and MrFidelmios have a list of valuable advises which I thought would be injustice if shortened to put them here.
So linking you directly to it – http://www.reddit.com/r/IndieGaming/comments/14po9p/indie_game_devdesigners_things_to_do_things_not/
Alrighty Guys, that’s it for now.. As promised I’ll keep updating the list. Gotta get back to work 🙂

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